Saturday, March 5, 2016

Boomers, X, Y, and Z Generations

All generations need to realize they can learn from each other, to run a successful business and an advanced society.

Many company workforce spans three or even four generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Y (Millennials) and Z: each with different leadership, communication, working, and learning styles, and their mindsets are shaped by the environment in which they grew up, the historical events they experienced, the technologies they played with at the certain era, the media they followed, or the particular challenges they overcome. Hence, each generation is defined by a set of stereotypes, and in fact, that different ages and worldviews learn differently and through different media and methods. So how can digital professionals belonging to different generations learn from each other to advocate the most advanced thinking, ideas, and viewpoint from a different perspective in order to lead their organizations, and fundamentally our society to the next level? How can they work together harmoniously by respecting what each brings, ideally, works for the overall goals of the company as well as fulfill their own career goal and purpose?

Baby boomers: Baby boomers were raised in hierarchical workplace environments where the flow of information was severely constrained and the business world was running with silo functional mentality. The world without internet was isolated by physical barriers - the oceans, the mountains, the deserts, and the forests, even you can travel all other the world, but it’s difficult to have an in-depth understanding of the multi-cultural society due to the scarcity of knowledge. Boomer is the most influential generation in the last couple of decades, hence, they also play a crucial role in shifting their mind to digital mode, refresh their thinking and management styles because they are the holders of institutional knowledge that can serve as the foundation for innovation. Finding how to keep them all motivated and on a mission is the biggest challenge, because how fast they can adapt to changes will directly impact the speed of the business transformation and the progress of the world.

X-Gen: X-Gen is like sandwich generation between baby-boomer and Y-Gen. And this is the “bridge” like generation which experienced both the internet bubble and bust, the traditional education style and the way of digital learning, they become more flexible and resilient to changes. Though it’s an underdog and less populated generation, it doesn’t mean X-Gen leadership will make less impact, as a matter of fact, from the industry surveys, X-Gens have highest intention to make a difference in their organizations and our global society than any other generations, because they are like the natural bridge to connect the industrial age to the digital era, extend regional consciousness to global cognition. Gen Xers, who already hold some leadership positions and are staking out territory for more.

Y-Gen (millennials) & Z-Gen: Millennials will surpass baby boomers as the largest segment of U.S. employees. As digital natives, both Y-Gen and Z-Gen are generations that are concerned about flexibility and social media, so trying to find ways to keep them engaged while offering employment programs that will allow them to learn new things. Due to the abundance of information and knowledge and the latest gadgets and learning tools, the younger generations are absolutely more open-minded, informative, and fluent in digital dialects and conversations. With the right guidelines, these generations can truly make the world hyperconnected and high-innovative.

Getting different generations to work together is part of team building. This is important for any enterprise because their clients and customers will also come from diverse age groups. Different generation groups don't all want the same thing. People's attitudes towards life, people, work, etc., are all influenced by what era they grew up in. Generations grow up with different beliefs and perspectives. The conditions of the economy, the state of the world, technology, and social trends all impact the overall behaviors of the generation. So the main theme in business now is collaboration to build a cohesive “C” generation -Connection and Collaboration. Knowledge and experience from different perspectives are powerful if utilized in the right manner. All generations need to realize they can learn from each other, instead of assuming they each know everything they need to know to run a successful business. At the dawn of the digital era, global businesses need to shed the tendency to bridge the generational differences and shape the cross-generational mindset with common digital traits and perceive a more complex and complete picture of their workforce


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