Dissecting the Generational Gap

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Almost every organization today has employees that come from three to four different generations.  Synonymous with “generation” seems to be the word “gap” and by definition a “gap” is a “break in a barrier!”  This negative connotation impacts our communication structure.  Perhaps we should be focusing on the positive impact these generational differences may play in our workforce.  How would it change the conversations we are having? 

Below is a list of published differences to help guide your thoughts when communicating with someone outside your generation.

The Traditional Generation

(Born pre-1945)

  • 8% of the workforce
  • Need to be trained one on one
  • Love to volunteer
  • Remember: “Old dogs can still have treats to share!”

Baby Boomers

(Born 1946-1964)

  • 30% of the workforce
  • 70% will continue working after retirement age
  • They work well with others
  • Remember: “They brought you into this world…they can take you out!”

Generation X

(Born 1965-1980)

  • 17% of the US Population
  • “Tell me what you want, give me the tools, leave me alone!”
  • There is an “I” in TEAMWORK
  • Remember: If you micromanage you’ll lose their loyalty.

Millennials

(Born 1981-2002)

  • 25% of the US Population
  • No news is bad news…feedback is essential.
  • Technology allows work and personal life to overlap.
  • Remember: They can’t imagine being as old as you are.

Linksters

(Born after 2002)

  • 18% of the World Population
  • Ask them to reverse mentor older team members.
  • Give structure and opportunities to interact with full-time employees.
  • Remember: Most are still in school, be flexible with their schedules, they are our future!

Regardless of whom you’re communicating with you can always remember the Three R’s:

Respect their contributions; Recognize their accomplishments; Remember them for making a difference.

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