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What’s in a gen?

So we have 5 generations in the workforce at the same time with so many different needs and requirements and ways to lead and supervise and communicate and commute and work and and and 9118_multigenerational-wo…… and I think it is time to just give it a rest.

You might say this is the reactions of a cranky boomer (boomer yes, cranky not really) but I also happen to be the parent of new teenagers that finds me interacting and socializing with other teenager parents who fall into the Gen X range. Then one of my teens dances so I find myself coordinating transport and scheduling with a wide range of other parents who started their kids dancing earlier than mine did and they seem to be a bunch of Gen Y’ers.  And I am my own employer, a member of the Gig generation.   So what is in a gen-eration anyway?

 I understand how the era we have been raised in can impact our views on the world, the arts (no, I never got disco), and our social interactions initially.  However, in today’s connected world I don’t think our views are static and I think what all generations want are very similar.  For example I think we all want a great job and I am using Gallup’s definition that says a “great job is a job which you believe your boss cares about your development, you can use your individual strengths at work, and you  believe your work makes a contribution to something.” 

No matter the age or generational group you may, or may not, fit into I truly believe we all want to know that the work you are doing, either as a full time, part-time, or contractor is valued, and that it contributes to the overall mission and purpose of the organization. We want to feel safe enough to speak out loud our ideas and thoughts with co-workers, colleagues, and leadership.  We all want to feel trusted and to be allowed the flexibility needed to balance life, the universe, and everything.

Trust is a key part people in all generations need and when this is the base from where we all start from with each other the focus moves to the relationships that cross ages and organizational boundaries. I have been surprised to find myself responding the same way with trusting clients as I did with trusting leaders.  I strive to deliver more than expected and/or asked, I gladly go longer with a smile and without expectations, and I focus on working to ensure the team and organization is successful. Characteristics of a boomer or how people react when they are trusted, engaged, and feel they are an active part of the team?  I’m going with the latter.

So boomer, X, Y, Millennial, Gig – does it really matter?  If we look past the label and start interacting with each other as individuals who believe the actions are with the best of intentions, then I don’t think it matters.  Let’s focus on treating each other with respect, dignity, honor, and trust then I think we all want the same things.  So now that we have all that settled can someone explain country music to me?   Let’s keep on learning – together! 


About wjryan

Developing high performing people through strategic learning and performance solutions. Please visit www.williamjryan.com


One thought on “What’s in a gen?

  1. Thank you, Bill, for that boost of good sense in the midst of endless articles about the differences between generations. You’ll get a kick out of this article – “I Replaced The Word ‘Millennials’ With ‘43-Year-Old White Men’ And Now These Headlines Are *Italian Chef Kissing Fingers Gesture*” – https://medium.com/slackjaw/i-replaced-the-word-millennials-with-43-year-old-white-men-and-now-these-headlines-are-italian-597167feb574#.6udeqvgta

    Posted by Jeff Ross | December 27, 2016, 9:42 am

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