As a busy student, often we lose sight of the fact that the generation we claim as our own, is not the only generation of people that we will inevitably work with in the business world. There are several generations that span the past century in the United States, all with their own unique traits and psychological characteristics. I think that is not only important to both understand and be prepared for these differing generations, but also to practice participating with these groups.
After reviewing these generations in one of my business courses, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a moment to write a blog about these, as well as introduce this blog stream “personal.” I will use this blog stream to cover different personal, business and anything-else related blog posts. Now, back to this blog posting comparing and evaluating generations.
The Silent Generation
No matter what your college major is, or what your field of expertise is, you will almost certainly be working in the “business world,” and this understanding can help you. There are hundreds of generations that span throughout human history, but today, I will only focus on the major relevant generations that we are bound to see in the current business arena. One of the first that can be found, yes, still working, is the Silent Generation. Also called the Traditional Generation, this silent group comes from the later Great Depression and World War Two times, as is generally a very conservative group of people. They are very much of the mindset that working at a job and living modestly is the way for them. These people will often show up before their job time begins, and stay the late hours after there job hours end, in order to get the work complete and done correctly. Because of these characteristics, they often receive recognition as “Worker of the Month” or something similar, for which they do not feel comfortable being publicly appreciated, and would much prefer a little plaque, or form of silent recognition. Sometimes, you might not realize that Bob has even been working in your office, and has in fact been working there longer than you have been alive; however, they are fundamental people to the workflow and operation of that company. They usually demand the highest level of respect, and are definitely deserving of this reputation. Retirement for them is a last resort, sit in a rocking chair status; an almost painful acceptance of no longer being able to work. To an unfortunate extent, this import group of people is quickly fading out of companies, and are not being replaced by a comparative group. Instead, the other generations come from a very different work perspective.
The Baby Boomers
After the end of the war, the Silent Generation brought to the world, not only the biggest, but also the (debated) the most evolutionary generation; the Baby Boomers. This generation was the first wave of “peace, not war” and Rock & Roll music (a far cry from the universal Jazz music of the prior era). Even further from their parents’ taste in music, is their opinion of retirement; that of which is a break from working to relax and enjoy life, once the kids move out of course. This group of people was the first to define the term mid-life crisis, as most reached a point of wanting to retire and be young again. If it was not for the crazy hobbies that they took up doing, it was surly the “American Youth Culture” that got the better of them. This generation of people were more focused on moving up in a company then staying at the same job for too long. They definitely like to be publicly recognized for their work, and enjoy spending their money rather than saving it.
Soon after the Baby Boomers boomed the world, a new generation followed. Named Generation X, this smallest group of 1965ers – 1980s kids soon grew to be a very interesting set of people. Though few in number, they had several key traits that set them apart and make them known. This generation never really connected with the baby boomers, nor did they vibe with the Silents. Instead, this group became very individualistic, and thus began the Entrepreneurial wave that rabidly progressed the rate of technological evolution in the U.S. Focused more on starting a business than working for one, this group is often later to marry, and has brought the divorce rate to a very new high. They also brought about a new problem to the economy; credit card debt. This generation often replaces upper level management, and is usually not as respected by prior generations, as no one likes to be told what to do by someone younger than them.
Starting in the 1980s, this most recent generation is what almost all students fall into. For the group of people who have graduated in the last ten years, to the people who still have yet to enter college, this group of people is viewed as being lazy and unmotivated. However, this group is not motivated by the interests of others; instead they are motivated by their own visions, and (debated) are more motivated and dedicated than any other group to fulfill that goal. When they sight their mind to something, not only are they able to learn at a faster rate than any prior generation, but they are also more well rounded in their approach to tackling the task at hand. They often prefer to work in teams, and plan everything out first before beginning any work. This trickles in to their academic pressure that they often feel, and desire for realization on a regular basis. It will be very interesting to see how this generation develops in the coming decades, especially as the current economic state has drastically changed their mindset forever.
No matter where you fall, no matter what category or title you claim, you are part of this world and part of the ever changing environment that we live and work in. It is important that you understand the generations of people that you are/will inevitably work with, and comprehend how to react best to them.
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