What Generation were You Born Into?

When we talk about generational differences, it’s easy to fall into overly generalized stereotypes. Lindsey Pollak (lindseypollak.com) shares some insights into the common characteristics of each group. Of course, no generation is one monolithic group of people who all behave the same way

We should understand that our “personalities” have been set in place at a young age.
You cannot “change” anyone. We have no control over this, so whether you are in a personal or business relationship, you will fail it you “try to change someone”.

What we can influence and alter is their behavior; how they might react to situations that would result in a different outcome.

Happy reading.

TRADITIONALISTS
 1922 TO 1945
+ 65 years

Age Generation

Traditionalists born in the U.S.: 50 million

Common characteristics: loyal, cautious, formal, proud

Workplace influence: Most traditionalists are now retired, but their influence can still be seen in workplace structures that have a top-down hierarchy with clear reporting structures and the “uniform” of a suit and tie. In fact, the cautious, rule-following traditionalists are the reason for many organizational practices that persist today. They also were known for their company loyalty and the practice of working at one place your entire career. Much of this is due to the fact that 50 percent of men of the traditionalist era shared the experience of serving in the military (compared to less than 1 percent of our population today). Most women of this era did not work outside the home.

BABY BOOMERS
1946 TO 1964
55-70 Yrs

Age Generation

Baby boomers born in the U.S.: 76 million

Common characteristics: optimistic, self-focused, competitive, forever young

Workplace influence: Boomers — until very recently the largest generation in American history — created more competition in the workplace as women and minorities began to take on jobs previously held only by white men in the Traditionalist era. Although some Boomers in their 50s and 60s are retired, others are still heavily involved in the U.S. workforce, thanks to their “forever young” natures and the global recession that began in 2008 and forced many boomers to postpone their retirement plans. Many Boomers prioritized work over family obligations, and they did not have the technology available to work from anywhere but the office, so they can sometimes be less supportive of flexible work policies.

GENERATION X
1965 TO 1980
40-55 Years

Age Generations

Generation Xers born in the U.S.: 55 million

Common characteristics: independent, skeptical, tech pioneers

Workplace influence: A generation almost as small as the Traditionalists, Gen Xers like me have felt overshadowed by our Boomer predecessors for most of our lives. We grew up independent, self-reliant and supportive of technology that helped us take care of ourselves, such as microwave ovens, video games and personal computers. When we entered the Baby Boomer-dominated workplace, we felt alienated and unimportant, knowing that we would never be a big enough group to have a huge impact at work. That helped fuel the independent instincts that led many to move to Silicon Valley and do our own thing (Gen Xers are the most entrepreneurial generation). Sandwiched between the massive Boomer and millennial generations, you could say we have a hint of an inferiority complex, which is why we often see ourselves as independent, self- sufficient and out of the mainstream.

MILLENNIALS A.K.A. GENERATION Y
(1981 TO 1997)
22-38 Years

Age Generations

Millennials born in the U.S.: 80 million

Common characteristics: self-expressive, group oriented, global, tech dependent

Workplace influence: Other generations often criticize millennials for acting entitled, demanding constant feedback and thinking they deserve a trophy just for showing up. I believe that these criticisms— I call it millennial shaming— can be traced back to the way many Gen Ys were parented (or “peer-ended) and taught; they grew up in an era in which children received a lot more attention and coaching. Also known as digital natives, many of today’s young professionals grew up with the Internet, and that has a major impact on how they see the world and interact with others — think texting and IM vs face-to-face or phone communication, as well as the expectation that infinite information is just one click away.

 

GEN Z
(BORN SINCE 1998)
15-21 years

Generations Ages

Common characteristics (so far): cautious, technologically advanced, entrepreneurial, diverse

Workplace influence: Make way for the next generation of entrepreneurs — 61 percent of (Gen Z) high school students say they want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee. That means that successful companies will need to begin focusing on offering frequent rotational assignments and early leadership experiences to embrace this generation’s entrepreneurial bent. As the most diverse generation in U.S. history, Gen Z will also expect the current trend toward more inclusive communities and policies to continue and accelerate. As children who came of age following the Great Recession, they will likely also share some of the cautious, frugal characteristics of their traditionalist forebears.

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