The Generation Gap

This past March Motheral Printing hosted an Association breakfast meeting on the generation “gap.” It was one of the best programs I’ve seen on this topic – and I’ve been to a few.

It was led by David Danforth with Eastfield Community College and Dr. Rick Lumadue with Texas A&M – Commerce.  These college professors, who are both Gen X-ers (born between 1964 and 1980), were very entertaining and candid with their observations.  These were not guys who are consultants or doctorial candidates writing research papers.  Every day they are seeing the new generation (Millennials) in the classroom, and they are also interfacing with the Boomers (administrators).

The key to this program was the observation that the upcoming Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are motivated very differently than the Boomers or Gen X-ers.  They communicate differently—via blogs IMs and text messaging rather than phone or face-to-face preferred by the older generation, who are frequently their supervisors.  They are heavily influenced by their parents and peers and are very team oriented.  Where Gen X-ers were highly independent and self-motivated, the Millennials need structure and very focused leadership. Millennials are multi-taskers and are not use to having lines of authority – they ask “why.”

Given that our industry’s workforce composition is beginning to change, managers and supervisors need to understand the dynamics of the groups they manage and how their own biases can affect their leadership. The more we can learn about ourselves and our workforce, the better leaders we become.  If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used by Danforth and Lumadue, please contact me.

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