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Dealing with Generational Differences to Make Good Teams Great
With four generations currently in the workforce, employers are faced with the challenge of setting, managing, and leading four different sets of expectations among these groups. The Veteran Generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials all vary in their personal and lifestyle characteristics. Of course, not every person in a generation will share all of the various characteristics and/or expectations, but research and studies have shown that a majority will share the same qualities and characteristics within their generation among the following components:
- Core values
These five components affect work ethic, motivation, and job satisfaction. Beginning with research Linkage began 10 years ago, we have determined that there are six major factors that contribute to on-the-job satisfaction (i.e. whether to come on board, stay on board, or jump overboard). We designate these factors the Six Satisfiers, which are as follows:
- Work/Role: Do the job functions, tasks, and responsibilities fit my needs and expectations?
- Salary/Benefits: Does the remuneration match both my needs/expectations and what the marketplace will bear? Money matters. But people have to be dissatisfied with something else to drive them out the door. Often money is the tip of the iceberg and the easy factor to talk about.
- Career Development: Does the level of learning and growth meet my needs and expectations?
- Team: Do I fit with and relate to the team and my manager?
- Culture: Do the values, operating principles, and beliefs of the organization fit mine?
- Work/Life: Does the job permit me to strike an acceptable balance between work and personal life?
When dealing with different expectations in terms of commitments that may be due to generational differences we use the Six Satisfiers as a lens to look at the generational needs and differences.
How would you define or describe the Veteran Generation as part of the labor force? The Baby Boomers? Gen Xers? Millenials? etc… To unearth the different expectations in terms of commitments due to generational differences, consider using the following exercise:
In your team or group, brainstorm the specific needs of one of the four generational groups listed above. Use the definitions of the Six Satisfiers to identify as many needs as you can for that group. Also, identify which of the Six Satisfiers you think are the most critical for each of the other groups. Each member of the team should rank each Satisfier on a scale of one to five (one being ‘least important’ and five ‘most important’). Plot your responses on a chart to better understand where the expectations and commitments of each generational group reside and discuss similarities and differences.
This simple exercise will provide you baseline data about what motivates, drives, and ‘satisfies’ different individuals in your team or group, and help you begin to understand how the team or group can work collaboratively to meet individual and group needs or desires.
About the Author:
Adam Rothberg is a consultant, facilitator and program manager at Linkage Inc. He has spent over ten years in the learning and development space and has worked in both the United States and Europe.
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