Age Matters

I get a lot of questions about generational differences in today’s workforce.  Many express frustration at the behavioral patterns they observe and find it difficult to relate to people older or younger.

Today, the workforce merges three distinctive generational types, making leadership a more complex and difficult endeavor.  In this and the next two blogs, I will suggest strategies on how to motivate Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomers.

Let’s start with the youngest group, Generation Y....


Millennials and Echo Boomers

Birth Years


Current Age

18-35 years


Suggestions to Motivate

  • Millennials want to create a better world.  Focus them on a cause or idea they can believe in.  Show them the “real” impact of their work that gives them a sense of significance.  Never trivialize their contributions.
  • Being the “soccer playing” generation, they relate to peer bonding and team building and prefer working in groups to individual effort.  Tap-in on their ability to collaborate and leverage their creative minds.
  • Move at a faster pace.  Their exposure to technology has made them the “on-demand” generation.  
  • Keep them focused with a variety of activities and creative endeavors.  They get bored easily.  Challenge them, they won’t complain.  For Millennials, change is good, boring is bad.  Consistently stimulate them with new projects and learning opportunities. 
  • Wired for instant gratification, provide immediate and continuous feedback. They grew up with lots of encouragement.  You can’t ignore them.
  • Millennials have been labeled the “busiest generation.”  From sports to music lessons to volunteer work, this generation sees work as only a part of a well-rounded life.  They are not willing to adopt the work sacrifices their parents and grandparents made.  Create a workplace where they can achieve a true work-life balance.
  • The use of technology comes natural to this group.  Leverage their tech-savvy nature to improve communications.  Consider new ways of connecting via texting and social media.  
  • Although they have not been in the workforce for long, show them respect.  Listen to them and acknowledge their contributions. Millennials want a voice and like attention.
  • Make the workplace fun.  They want to enjoy their work, make friends and socialize. Relationships are important to them. Involve them in planning social activities. 

I have three daughters in this group.  I clearly see the pattern.  While not everyone fits perfectly, this group, if lead appropriately and given the right opportunities, will one-day surprise us all!

Younger generation is not team oriented

Thank you for your thoughts.  The team orientation comes from this generation having grown-up as the "soccer generation."  All things being equal, they generally prefer working with groups.  That being said, there is some truth to what you say that they are not as loyal as the Boomer generation, for example, and will easily change jobs if it doesn't fulfill their needs.  Culture also plays an important role, as you pointed out.  Any company that does not support their workforce will not gain their loyalty.  Please continue to share your thoughts and provide feedback and, if anyone else has thoughts on this, please chime in.  

Aloha, Glenn