PMP Generational Diversity
The workforce in today’s environment is diverse and includes more generations working together than ever before in history. In many organizations, you may have people from the silent generation, baby boomers, generation X millennials, and generations Z. That includes people born starting from the 1940s through today.
As a project manager, is important to understand the uniqueness and sensitivities associated with each generation.
That’s not to say that every person within a specific generation identifies with the broad generalities associated with that generation, but it helps you form a picture of the team strengths, their work ethics, soft skills, and approach to life and work.
Here are some of the unique characteristics of each generation:
The Silent Generation
These folks were born between 1925 and 1945. They lived through World War II, tend to conform to social standards and norms, and are often frugal.
The war and the Great Depression caused the shortage of food, goods, and services. This caused rationing of food, gas, and other everyday items we take for granted today. This influenced many of them to become strong savers. That generation of workers often worked for the same company for life.
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They were born after the war and for many years were the largest generation alive. Baby boomers tend to share characteristics of the generations around them.
Baby boomers experienced affluence and an abundance of food and goods growing up and were sometimes said to be spoiled. This generation brought about social change in many areas, including music, personal expression, life cycles, the civil rights movement, and more.
They tend to reject traditional values of the silent generation and are more physically active and wealthier than the silent generation.
Some research groups predict at this age group, those 55 years of age and older, will be the fastest-growing segment of the workforce between now and 2025.
Baby boomers are choosing to postpone retirement or come back to work after they have retired.
This generation was born between 1965 and 1976. This generation was known as the ‘latch key’ generation because they grew up in households where both parents worked, and they often came home to an empty household.
As they reached their teens, they were also nicknamed the ‘MTV generation’. This generation tends to be entrepreneurial – as a result of having to fend for themselves as youngsters. They were the first to introduce the concept of work-life balance.
Having watched baby boomers’ parents work themselves to death, only then to experience layoffs and loss of pensions, Gen X’ers determined to enjoy both work and personal life and not allow work to consume them.
Millennials or Gen Y
Millennials were born between 1977 and 1995. Millennials grew up experiencing the advent of technology in everyday life. The Internet was dawning, games such as Xbox and PlayStation came about, and they found themselves becoming dependent on technology as it emerged.
They are comfortable using technology and engaging in social media. Millennials are sometimes characterized as narcissistic, but this likely refers to their other characteristics such as confidence and assertiveness. They value tolerance and collaborative teams. Millennials are the largest generation in the workplace today.
This generation was born between 1996 or the early 2000’s. Some of them are now just entering the workplace. This generation grew up immersed in technology and they don’t know any other way of life. Partly due to their tech-savvy and reliance, they are open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They are heavily influenced by social media.
They sometimes have short attention spans also due to technology, and often prefer texting to talking. They are hard-working and often more stressed than other generations due to social media dependence, school shootings, political infighting, and other social and cultural issues prevalent today that were rare in past generations.
As you can see each of these generations had a unique set of characteristics growing up from World War II to the arrival of social media and each experience informs their behavior, beliefs, and actions.
Generational sensitivity should be considered when choosing and developing teams, and this also helps in developing cross-functional agile teams. With a wide diversity of age, experience, and outlooks comes a significant amount of creativity and thinking outside the box.
Diversity and inclusion are also important in acquiring developing teams.
Diversity involves hiring team members who come from different generations, cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and more.
Diverse teams are more apt to explore new ideas and develop approaches to issues and challenges because of the variance in backgrounds, experience, and beliefs on the team. Diversity is only one side of the coin, however, inclusion is the other.
Inclusion means that the team is collaborative, supportive, and respectful of one another and that all team members have a voice and are expected to participate in the project. It is giving your team members a safe place to be who they really are and ensuring that you are working toward a set of equitable outline outcomes.
This helps ensure the participation of all team members while preventing a domineering team member from overtaking the group.
The project manager or team leader needs to manage this by calling on team members one by one and encouraging each one to express their thoughts. As the saying goes, “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”