Can’t Grandpa Keep Up? – Is Generational Difference Impacting Your Team’s Performance?

How come my team doesn’t work as hard as me?  Is it a generational thing……….


As a team leader, it’s important to understand how much to push your team in order to be successful. Striking the perfect balance is often the struggle – pushing too hard can lead to burnout and decrease motivation, while pushing too little can lead to missed goals.  Far too often we tend to “justify” these differences as a generational thing. 


Generations have been compared for years in the workplace, and the debate continues to rage on. But is it an apples to apples comparison?  Recent statistics show that Millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace, making up 35% of all employees, compared to 31% of Gen Xers. (Source: Pew Research Center)


Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, and are often referred to as the “digital natives”. They have grown up with technology and are comfortable with digital tools and platforms. They are highly creative and motivated, and often have a strong sense of purpose, wanting to make a difference in their work. They also value collaboration and teamwork, and are comfortable with change. 


Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, are often referred to as the “forgotten generation”. They are highly independent and self-reliant, and are comfortable with taking risks. They are also very adaptable and can quickly adjust to change. They are also highly motivated and driven, and often take initiative in their work. 


Generation Y, those born between 1981 and 2004, are often referred to as the “tech-savvy” generation. They are highly tech-savvy, with an aptitude for digital tools and platforms. They are also extremely creative and motivated, having grown up in a digital world. They are also highly collaborative and team-oriented, and are comfortable with change. 


When it comes to job satisfaction, Gen Xers are more satisfied with their job than Millennials, with 72% saying they are satisfied versus 66% for Millennials. (Source: Gallup) Gen Xers are more likely to stay with an employer longer than Millennials, with an average of 6 years compared to 2.8. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


I know for a fact that my parents certainly worked much differently than I do, and that my kids and their colleagues work in far different ways than me.  When we coach our clients, we often need to remind them of that.  Each generation brings it’s own uniqueness to the workplace and that judging them compared to your own is not a path to success. BUT rather to try to recognize each generation’s strength and weaknesses and try to develop a culture that accommodates them.  


Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your team:


  • Set clear expectations: Clearly define goals and expectations for your team. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.
  •  Encourage collaboration: Create an environment where team members are encouraged to collaborate and innovate. This will help generations understand each other and work more efficiently and cohesively. 
  •  Recognize achievements individually and collectively.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. 
  •  Provide feedback: Regular feedback is essential in order to ensure that your team is performing to the best of their ability.
  •  Support growth: Provide opportunities for your employees to grow and develop professionally. Lateral mobility is just as important as upward growth. 


Each generation has something unique to offer in the workplace, and understanding their differences and similarities can help employers create an environment that is conducive to success. 

Feel free to reach out directly to discuss this topic further as well as any other questions or concerns regarding the current hiring climate. I guarantee that in our call together you will leave with 2 or 3 ideas that will greatly impact your ability to find, attract, and procure the top 10-15% of the candidate pool on a consistent basis.



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