By: Curt Steinhorst:
We work in a time of unprecedented generational change. Four generations in the workforce. Five generations in the marketplace. Strategies that work for one generation can be complete turn-offs for others. This divide is a costly and growing challenge, or a once-in-a-generation opportunity—depending entirely on how you and your leaders respond. In my work for the Center for Generational Kinetics, I help all kinds of organizations understand and deal with generational differences. I’ve had the chance to interact with thousands of leaders on the front lines of the generational divide, getting an inside look into the tough challenges organizations face across the globe. The conflicts that occur in the workplace between people of different generations impact every facet of work – from management and retention to sales and recruiting.
Generations as a study
In one sense, this is nothing new. For all of history, older people have been frustrated by younger people and younger people have been frustrated by older people. But there’s a sharper edge to this age-old dynamic now. The issues that separate the generations are more defined than ever. The reason is simple – a number of cultural trends have made it where the experiences of older generations during their coming of age look nothing like those that shaped Millennials’ worldview. Few of us realize how radically different life experiences are from one generation to the next. The differences can manifest in glaringly different work styles, views about supervision, and what’s appropriate at work. It helps to recognize we are all the products of our unique life experiences and we all naturally believe that everyone else thinks just like we do.
Why Millennials, Why Now?
Millennials are the fastest-growing, largest employee generation in the workforce today. Along with timely skills and valuable ambition, they bring a unique employee mindset that can frustrate the most experienced leaders and managers. On the customer side, Millennial consumers buy differently than any other generation. With $1.3 trillion to spend this year in the U.S. alone, Millennials will outspend Baby Boomers in 2017. Millennials have the least established brand loyalty, most pent-up purchasing demand, and buy differently than any previous generation. And yet, Millennials are the future of almost every company—but sales and marketing techniques that worked even five years ago are not working with Millennials today.
The New Wrinkle
I love technology. I love that it grants us access to endless hordes of information (including on the flight from Spain to DFW that I’m on while writing this). On the other hand, it makes it quite difficult to differentiate research based truths from ‘I have a laptop and opinions' myths. The volume of noise related to generational differences is creating real challenges for people. Not only is so much of the conversation unhelpful, it’s often counter-productive. I often find myself entering into contentious situations where unproductive ideas about particular generations (usually Millennials) has resulted in a silo-ing effect within teams. 'Why deal with that other generation when they are all like (insert derogatory comment here)?’ is not an uncommon view. I often tell people that it’s best if they forgot everything they thought they knew about the topic. Let’s start fresh and we will all be better off. That’s my request for our time together at the ACAM-CEO Mindshare Conference. We will talk about what’s actually true versus what you’ve heard. And you will walk away with how the generational differences can create an unprecedented opportunity for you, if you are willing to adapt.
By: Dr. Lori Baker-Schena, MBA, EdD
Leadership & Communications Consultant
Working in the community association management industry is not for the weak of heart. Every day you and your staff are putting out fires – that’s to be expected when you constantly deal with demanding Boards and frustrated homeowners.
In an industry that requires managers to be generalist rather than specialist, how do you stay informed on so many changing subjects? From accounting practices to building requirements, as a manager we have all been in the hot seat at a Board meeting, slightly out of our area of expertise but 5 sets of eyes looking at you for answers. You are leading a group of professionals to make decisions for the community and you are expected to know it all, so on top of spending 40+ hours per week doing your job, how do you stay abreast on all the changes? There’s two key ways.