The ClientWise Blog

Generation Gap

Posted by Chris Holman on Jul 1, 2010 2:09:00 PM


There’s a thought-provoking piece in the Harvard Business Review that discusses generational diversity in the workforce and how to manage it.

In many organizations today, there is a diverse group of workers with disparate differences in attitude with regard to: motivating, managing, maintaining, dealing with change, and increasing productivity. Many of today’s organizational leaders are members of the Silent Generation or Baby Boomers. Fast on their heels are Generation X and the Millenials. Although stereotypes are tricky, it seems to be true that each generation demonstrates similar characteristics.

For those financial advisors who work on multigenerational teams, it might be helpful to raise awareness of the differences between generations, as well as to recognize the benefits of cross-generational dialogue. The photo at the beginning of this article is a prime example of the difference between two generations—the older businessman is reading a book, while the younger person seems to be reading a text message from his phone.

The oldest generational group, born between 1925 and 1945, is the Silent Generation. This group values hard work, conformity, dedication, sacrifice and patience. Members of this generation are comfortable with delayed recognition and reward.

The largest group in the work force today is the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers are characteristically optimistic and team-oriented. They place a high value on work ethic, while also seeking personal gratification and growth.

The smallest sized group is Generation X, also known as the Sandwich Generation because of their position between the two largest groups. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, were the first “latchkey kids”. They are self-reliant, global thinkers who value balance, fun, and informality.

Millenials were born between 1981 and 2000, and ultimately will become the largest group. Members of this generation exhibit confidence, optimism, civic duty, sociability, street smarts, inclusivity, collaboration, and open-mindedness. They tend to be goal-oriented.

Multigenerational Dialogue
For many teams, cross-generational understanding begins with dialogue. Indeed, some teams have formalized the conversation by organizing discussion groups that explore the generational differences between them.

Here are some coaching questions that may facilitate a useful exchange of ideas:

  • What were some of your generation’s key national and international events?
  • What trends, people, and popular culture do you recall from your first 12-15 years?
  • Which defining historical event(s) shaped your generation?
  • What do you value most about your generation?
  • What challenges do you face as a result of being in your generation?
  • What perceptions do others have of your generation?
  • What are the pluses and minuses of working with each of the other generations?
  • How can the members of multigenerational teams work better together?
  • What should the mode of communication between them be?

Within any team, it is important to openly discuss differences in expectations. Recognizing that the same generation can look very different through the “generational lens” is helpful in understanding that it is normal for different people to react to the same situation in different ways.

Join our Complimentary Webinar
Webinars are a relatively new method of communicating and are commonly used by people from most generations. The benefits are obvious: they can reach a large audience; participants can be located across the country; they’re convenient, they save time and money and increase productivity.

At ClientWise, we’re always looking for ways to help financial professionals improve their productivity and meet their goals. Our latest public webinar, to be held on Thursday, July 15 at 4:30 pm, EST, will discuss the benefits of our new service, the Benchmark Assessment Report (BAR™), which benchmarks your practice against other top advisors.

For more details about how the BAR™ can leverage your strengths to accelerate growth or to register for the webinar, please visit our website at www.clientwise.com and click on the “Knowledge is Power” photo. Members of all generations are welcome.

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Topics: Team Development, Millennials