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Generational leadership
Generational Leadership


In the 21st Century, workplace environments are ever-changing. Generational differences are becoming more prevalent and understanding generational differences in the workplace allows for more collaboration and productivity. Employees who are self-aware are more likely to foster an environment of teamwork and innovation where generation differences exist.


To provide awareness and understanding of generational differences that exist in the workplace and how to effectively blend them together for the betterment of the organization’s goals.

Generational leadership1
Generational Leadership

From High Maintenance to High Productivity1

Provided are different strategies managers can use to change the “High Maintenance” Generation Y employees into “Highly Productive.” Below is a brief summary of the messages to managers:

  • Take the time to get to know each Gen Yer. Listen to them. Show them you genuinely care about their success in your organization as well as care about them as persons. Make building those relationships as much a managerial imperative as accomplishing results. Go for a walk, take them to lunch, have coffee: Yers feel more comfortable in informal settings than in formal meetings.

  • Establish a coaching relationship with them. Yers want managers who are teachers who can help them grow and improve. Since they’re the ‘‘education is cool’’ generation, position yourself as a dynamic source of their learning. Provide the resources, tools, and the learning goals they need to progress ‘‘just-in-time.’’ Gen Yers learn best, as most people do, when they know they will need the knowledge or skill to succeed.

  • Treat Yers as colleagues, not as interns or ‘‘teenagers.’’ They can’t stand condescending managers who yell and scream, and who are not approachable when they need their questions answered.

  • Be flexible enough to customize schedules, work assignments, projects and career paths. One-size-fits all is out; customization is in. Since many Yers are still in school, they appreciate a manager’s attempts to balance work requirements with their other commitments

  • Consistently provide constructive feedback. Don’t wait for performance evaluations to tell Yers what they’re doing wrong. Do it daily. Tell them how to improve today. That’s what the best coaches do: They observe and give immediate feedback. Avoid harping on the negative, accentuate the positive, and, most importantly, get them back on track immediately.

  • Consistently let Yers know when they’ve done a good job. Give them immediate praise, recognition and rewards for great performance. Tie rewards and incentives to one thing only: performance. And make sure to deliver them in close proximity to the event.

1Martin, Carolyn A. "From High Maintenance to High Productivity." Industrial And Commercial Training 37.1 (2005): 39-44

Generational leadership2
Generational Leadership

Boomer-Millennial Workplace Clash1

Generations are described as having different mental maps for the workplace and how it is the responsibility of the manager to understand these different maps and make engaged in their work. Outlined are messages to managers summarized from the survey results

  • Make Training & Mentoring a Priorty - This kind of support is crucial when you’re dealing with a group used to receiving plenty of feedback and one-on-one attention.

  • Set Clear (Culture Norm) Objectives - Millennials, being newish to the workplace, don’t have the same depth of norms to compare things to, so setting clear objectives for culture norms up front is important.

  • Consider the Medium - Focus on how Millennials access new knowledge in their personal lives and

  • incorporate that into on-the-job training.

  • Provide Feedback Early & Often - Millennials are accustomed to frequent feedback, and have only recently left the academic environment where that feedback is built right in to the “job.” So build feedback into this job, too.

  • Pause Before Reacting - Generational resentment does not lead to the behavior change you are looking for in the workplace

    Along with these messages to managers were messages to Millennials:

  • Hold Off on Friending in Social Media

  • Social Media Lasts Forever

  • Keep Texting at Bay

  • Position Yourself as a Subject Matter Expert of Your Generation

  • Follow the Lead of Your Manager

1Meister, Jeanne. "The Boomer-Millennial Workplace Clash: Is it real?" N.p., 4 June 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013

Generational leadership3

Note to Markham: This slide is written from an administrator’s perspective as I will use it with my employees immediately.

Generational Leadership


Select the category that best fits describing you for each row. Total your score. If you scored near 20, you think like the Mature Generation; 15-19 points like a Baby Boomer; 10-14 points as Generation X; and 5-9points like the Millennial (Generation Y). What do you find surprising about the other options for each question?