Advertising
Advertising

How to March to Today’s Multigenerational Drum

How to March to Today’s Multigenerational Drum

If you ask your grandparents about life when they first stepped out on their own, you will get a very different picture than the experience of today’s youth. Changing technologies, economies, and expectations can also bring about differences in generational thinking. While looking at each generation as a whole lumps everyone together and removes the individual; it is helpful for those looking at the overall themes to better understand how we can relate to people from different eras. Sometimes, heated discussions and conflicts are brought about because of this lack of understanding of underlying currents that are absent in your own generation.

There are five generational groups that we will reference in this article.

  1. Traditionalists / Silent Generation (born 1925 – 1945)
  2. Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  3. Gen X (born 1965 – 1980)
  4. Gen Y / Millennials (Born 1981 – 2000)
  5. Gen Z / Boomlets (Born after 2001)

Each group, as a general rule, has different themes and outlooks on life. Lack of understanding can create conflict with younger generations in several key areas.

1) Financial Independence

wealth-69524_1280

    Many Mellenniums may find themselves still living at home, or at least leveraging their parents for financial support, well into adulthood. According to the New York Times, one in five people in their twenties and early thirties are still living with their parents. This is a big difference between other generations. Most Baby Boomers and Traditionalists moved out much earlier – usually to get married. The inability to cut the apron strings today could be due, in part, to the fact that many entry-level jobs are often not able to cover basic living expenses; especially in some urban areas where the cost of living outpaces many starting salaries. In fact, a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that entry-level hourly wages  for college graduates from 2000 -2013 fell on average at a rate of 8.1 percent among women, and 6.7 percent among men. Many people are also delaying marriage and staying in school longer due to conomic reasons.

    Advertising

    Generation X and Baby Boomer parents may be tempted to compare their children’s lack of financial independence to when they were married, working, and on their own at a much earlier age. However, it is hard to correlate today’s job opportunities and financial freedoms to the ones they experienced when they were in their early twenties, due to the constantly changing workplace. Many older parents have a stronger work ethic. They have accumulated wealth over the years and are now able to financially support their children. Unfortunately, their kids are all too happy to take advantage of this.

    2) Work Ethic / Company Loyalty

    blogging-336376_1280

      Many older generations tend to label people in the Millennial group as less hard-working than they were in their early twenties. They do this because this younger generation is more inclined to push back against a typical “9 to 5” work day. Many Millennials value flexibility and embrace working in an environment that is more conducive to molding around their needs, rather than forcing them to conform to the needs of the organization.

      However, just because older generations were polishing their shoes and settling into their desks at 7:45 a.m. when they were in their 20s, does not mean that the Millennial workers don’t work just as many hours. Many people from older generations feel that if you aren’t in the office under supervision, then you aren’t working. Younger generations do not embrace this mindset. They are much more inclined to take their work home with them. So, while the Baby Boomer generation worked a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday, the Millennial generations may work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then take the afternoon off before starting up again from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Millennial workers are much more likely to work remotely, and may feel less worried about making appearances at the office. To them, as long as the work gets done well, it doesn’t matter if they do it during regular business hours or after a relaxing dinner.

      People who are in their early twenties are also typically less trusting of corporations than their predecessors. Older generations wanted to be hired by a good company, slowly building a lifetime legacy there by paying their dues and climbing the corporate ladder. Many Traditionalist and Baby Boomers remark that in their twenties, they simply felt lucky to have a job and did not expect the organization to cater to their needs. Millennials, now in their early twenties, have watched companies perform downsizes; and have seen that their predecessors’ loyalty was often rewarded by corporate cuts for more profitable numbers on Wall Street. They may even have experienced this first hand by watching a parent lose their job with a company they assumed would provide them a good living. In turn, they are often much more comfortable with changing careers and companies, less loyal to their employers, more comfortable pushing back against authority figures, and more willing to leave if they aren’t happy in their current job. They may also build parallel careers, work multiple jobs simultaneously, and have more than one specialty.

      Advertising

      3) Chief Motivators

      stones-451329_1280

        Today’s youth are motivated by different factors than previous generations. Traditionalists were more motivated by security and self worth. Boomers were more motivated with money and status. Generation Xers wanted more time off and were motivated by a balanced work / life balance after watching their overworked parents. Generation Y seems to be motivated by doing work that is meaningful. They also enjoy work that allows them to express their individuality and maintain a personal life. Millennials are less impressed with the status quo, and instead want to feel a strong sense of passion for what they do with their lives. They also tend to be more globally focused than their predecessors due to growing up during a time when news and information are instantly shared with ease via the globally connected Internet.

        4) Education

        education-488036_1280

          A college degree, or even a graduate degree, is much more common in the Millennial Generation than in the past. According to findings from the Pew Research Center’s survey of 2,002 adults (supplemented by a Pew Research analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau), today’s Millennials are the best-educated generation in history. A third (34%) have a bachelor’s degree. When you compare the Traditional generation of 25-32 year-olds in 1965, only 13% had a college degree. This percentage expanded to 24% in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the Boomers were in their early 20s. This means that Millennials also have more competition from other highly-educated peers for jobs, and are more likely to delay launching their career until they have obtained a competitive degree.

          5) Communication Style

          Advertising

          megaphone-50092_640

            Millennials, and the upcoming Generation Z, are the technology gurus. While other generations remember the life before the Internet, the Generation Y kids obtained a working knowledge of technology very early in their lives. However, this can lead to them preferring e-mail, texting, instant messages, and Facebook exchanges over face-to-face communication. They are always plugged in. Most of them find it very hard to disconnect from their online world.

            6) Knowledge

            library-428034_1280

              Today’s youth have grown up with the ability to research anything with the click of their Google app. This means that instead of pouring over library books trying to find their answers, they are now easily found with a quick topic search. Millennials are able to further expand their hobbies and interests much easier than previous generations. For example, instead of pouring over library books or shadowing an expert, you can now find How-To videos and step-by-step instructional articles online within seconds. You can instantly learn how to make everything from home-made wine to how to up-cycle old pallets. Due to the ease of obtaining information about nearly everything online, Millennials are much more well-versed in many different hobbies and passions. They enjoy an eclectic variety of D.I.Y. projects, and are quick to try new things due to this ease of learning.

              7) Respect for Authority

              boss-454867_1280

                Millennials are more comfortable with a fast-paced, changing world, and have no problem pushing back against authority or voicing concerns. Many older generations accuse them of not respecting authority. This is not exactly correct. Millennials have great respect for authority, but unlike previous generations, they don’t respect authority figures just because of their title. For Millennials, respect is not automatically given. It must be earned. For most Millennials, respect for their managers is the main reason they stay with their job. Coincidentally, the dissatisfaction of working for their manager is also the main reason that they quit. Many companies have adapted their approach to leadership when dealing with Mellennials. Management has evolved into a more relational role, rather than an authoritarian one, in order to lower their job turn-over rate.

                Advertising

                Millennials are less worried about formal dress-code, and more interested in flexibility and new challenges. They would rather be traveling on new adventures than pressing their pinstripe suit. If they are put into the more traditional roles of their predecessors, they may become bored if the work does not continually push them into new areas of discovery.

                8) Family

                love-497528_1280

                  People from the Generation Y stage are also delaying marriage in favor of launching careers or furthering their education. Millennials are focused on making a good income before settling down with a family. The typical man now marries for the first time at age 28 and the typical women at age 26. This is about five years older than in 1970 (for both genders). Women are also delaying having children. In Western, Northern, and Southern Europe, first-time mothers are on average 26 to 29 years old, up from 23 to 25 years at the start of the 1970s.

                  Many Baby Boomers and Traditionalists feel that Generation X-ers and the Millennial Generation don’t want to grow up. Some of that may be true, but it stems from how the Boomers raised their children. Many Boomer parents tended to coddle their children more than past generations. Some Baby Boomers even use their own financial success to ensure their kids don’t experience adversity. Millennials, after watching their parents work so hard, are often not willing to suffer the long hours and general stress that they watched play out when they were growing up. Therefore, they tend to lean toward spending more time with their family in favor of less financial affluence. And, if Mom and Dad haven’t turned their old room into a theater room yet, Millennials see no reason why they shouldn’t hang out there at least a little bit more and delay the intimidating stresses of adulthood.

                  While generational gaps show us how very different it is to be in your mid-twenties today, these decades apart also illuminate how social, economic, and educational trends have changed over the years. Whether you’re a Millennialist, Traditionalist, Boomer, or a misunderstood Generation X-er, you still have more commonalities than differences.

                  Each generation can learn from their past. We can also pull older family and friends into current technologies and the fast-paced present. Understanding and celebrating these differences, and learning from one another, is the best way to leverage the strengths of each era and become better individuals.

                  More by this author

                  Sarah Hansen

                  A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

                  12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power Why Am I so Unhappy? 50 Little Things That Secretly Make You Unhappy 10 Amazing Benefits of Swimming You Never Knew Top 10 Questions to Ask in an Interview to Get Hired Which Dehydrator Is The Best For You?

                  Trending in Communication

                  1 How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up 2 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer 4 If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things 5 7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

                  Read Next

                  Advertising
                  Advertising
                  Advertising

                  Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                  7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                  7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                  Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                  For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                  Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                  1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                  A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                  It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                  It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                  How it helps you:

                  If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                  Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                  2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                  Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                  Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

                  Advertising

                  How it helps you:

                  Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                  Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                  If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                  Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                  3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                  Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                  Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                  How it helps you:

                  This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                  For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                  Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

                  Advertising

                  A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                  4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                  To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                  A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                  How it helps you:

                  One word: hierarchy.

                  All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                  In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                  If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                  5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                  Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                  Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                  How it helps you:

                  Advertising

                  Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                  If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                  This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                  6. What do you like about working here?

                  This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                  Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                  How it helps you:

                  You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                  Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                  Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                  7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                  What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                  As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

                  Advertising

                  How it helps you:

                  What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                  First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                  Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                  Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                  Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                  Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                  Making Your Interview Work for You

                  Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                  Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                  More Resources About Job Interviews

                  Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

                  Read Next