Monday, July 11, 2011

We're All Millennials Now

It's been a while since I talked about generations on this blog. Isn't that what this blog is supposed to be all about? It's almost as if the themes of leadership and innovation have taken over. I wonder if I'm getting better at either as a result?

But here’s an interesting article Shelly Alcorn pointed me to. It's about the multi-generational workplace, and how some organizations are experimenting with management models based on democracy--giving workers of all generations an equal vote in how things are run--to better balance and leverage the talents of all.

It's a good read. But here’s what gets me, and what’s tempered my enthusiasm for the generations biz. The article defines the generations this way:

Veterans: Workers who preceded the baby boomers tend to be authoritarian and loyal, and they value wisdom gained from experience over technological expertise.

Boomers: Known for their workaholic habits and need for status symbols, they’ve sacrificed a lot for their careers. They often expect their junior staff to do the same.

Generation X: They are generally comfortable working within the systems established by their employers and, like the boomers before them, are more willing to let work cut into their personal lives. They have no problem using technology, having entered the work force just as computers were becoming mainstream.

Millennials: Tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and independent, they tend to value work-life balance and meaningful work more than a large paycheque. They are less likely to be attached to an employer than other generations and tend to stay only a few years before moving on.

Huh? GenX is comfortable working within the systems established by their employers? They're willing to let work cut into their personal lives? What strange alternate universe have I found myself in?

You know, I used to be happy being GenX. Then for a while I decided I wanted to be Generation Jones. Now, with the definitions listed above, I think I'm going to start being a Millennial.

Care to join me?

Image source


Jamie Notter said...

Don't believe everything you read! ;-)

That is an interesting (and I would argue inaccurate) take on Gen X. I will say that as Gen X hits the main part of mid-life, you'll definitely find more of us within organizations, particularly if the Boomers ever retire. But i wouldn't say we're going to like our institutional confines.

Shelly Alcorn, CAE said...

Thanks for the shout-out on the article.

I agree with you that the person who wrote the article seems to have little understanding about Generation X. At least, that doesn't describe any X'er I've ever met - certainly not myself.

What was more interesting was the focus on democratic process. It still means we are going to be outvoted here and there but the tides are turning and I like the concept of democratic workplaces.


David M. Patt, CAE said...

Maybe Millenials only stay in a job a few years before moving on, but that was true of GenX and Boomers when they were younger, too. (Veterans may not have felt that way because many of them grew up during the Depression and knew what it was like for people to not have jobs, so they may have learned to cling to what they had).

Eric Lanke said...

Thanks for the comments, Jamie, Shelly and David. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't recognize myself in their GenX description. Is it all symptomatic of GenX not getting any attention because of the two "mega-generations" that surround it?

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