Volume 70, January 2007: Spanning the Generations

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2007 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Not just tolerate, appreciate.” — Overheard from a good manager

“It’s not about finding the best people. It’s about being the best.” — Cam Marston

“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations, much is given. Of other generations, much is expected. This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936)

“Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the paths to dwell in.” — Isaiah 58:12


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Teaching people to appreciate, not just tolerate, differences.
  • Viewing the richness of diversity as an asset to your organization.
  • Discovering and utilizing the talents of all people.
  • Treating people as an “n of 1,” not as a category.
  • Eschewing “ageism”.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Not understanding and appreciating differences in the workplace breeds derision, division and discourtesy among its members. Values, style, history – these are things that are not likely to change. The challenge is to foster appreciation, not just tolerance, of differences. This is the first time in history that we have had four generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Tapping into the uniqueness of each generation brings strength to the workforce. Know the composition of your group and tailor your messages for maximum benefit.

Frequently Asked Questions

“What is a generation?”
As defined by William Strauss (2007), a cohort group (about 20 years from birth to adulthood), with: 1) a common age/location in history; 2) common attitudes and behavior traits; and 3) a common collective identity. Each generation rebels by correcting major mistakes of the previous one, filling the social void, and breaking stylistically from its pop culture-makers. This is an American phenomenon, he says. The eras are marked by “turnings,” about every 17-24 years, when the current youth generation “comes of age.” Why do things seem to skip generations? As an example, the Boomers are usually the teachers, mentors, generals, CEOs, and political leaders of the Millennials.
“Please explain the differences between the generations.”
Generation Traits – What’s Motivating Them?
Traditionalists/Matures/Silent or Veterans (before 1945) Loyalty, honor, duty, discipline, hard work, patience, strong interpersonal skills, do not like to draw attention to self, value quality over speed, conformity, save/make do
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) Work hard/play hard, risk-taking, me, materialists, status, workaholics, competitive, change the world, like team environment, meaningful work, make caring managers, parents wanted them to have everything
Generation X (1965-1980) Live for today, no common heroes, cynical, pessimistic, prove it to me, question authority, embrace technology, loyalty to individuals not companies
Millennials/Gen Y/Nexters (1981-2000) Optimistic, individualistic, run in packs, ambitious but appear aimless, instant gratification, technology gurus, difficulty focusing on non-stimulating stuff, seek fulfillment not financial security

Marston & Learning Communications (2007) & Waisman & Bedinger (2007)

“Can you suggest an exercise to increase understanding among the generations and integrate these groups to create a stronger workplace?”
Assemble representatives from the generations. Post four flipcharts with the years and generation categories. Ask the participants to flipchart what their generation values as a collective. “What are we like?” is the question. Then ask each group to rotate clockwise to their neighbor’s flipchart, draw a line and make suggestions about how to invite the talents of this group into the workplace. Continue until each group has returned to their original flipchart. Ask them to circle the responses that most appeal to them and report these out. Any method of true dialogue among the groups could enhance understanding. See the Keyzine: Dialogue: Thinking Together
“If there were mottos or a t-shirt for each group, what would they say?”
Borrowing from Waisman & Bedinger (2007):
Traditional: “You’re OK and I’m good. Thank you, sir or madam.”
Boomer: “I’m OK and you’re OK. Be anything you want.”
X’er: “I’m OK but I’m not sure about you, as the jury’s still out.”
Millenials: “You’re OK and I’m fantastic.”


Good Video: Mixing Four Generations in the Workplace.

Messages that motivate the different generations: Talkin’ ‘Bout Four Generations.

Training: Four generations working together: Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce.

Key Associates offers Diversity training for organizations.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Interesting article on the differences of the generations: Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees.

Four Generations Working Together.

Your leadership style and the generations: Understanding The Four Generations In Today's Workplace.

Former Keyzines on related topics: Organizational Culture, Evolving Workplaces: Telework, Valuing Diversity, Harassment, and Minding Manners.



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