Generation Flex

Generation Flex

SIDEBAR: Acting Their Age

What every CIO needs to know about the three generations that currently make up the workforce

by B Tulgan

  • Baby Boomers - born 1946-1961*
  • Baby boomers represent roughly 46 percent of the workforce.
  • Boomers generally believe they have paid their dues and climbed the ladder under the old rules and now find themselves operating amidst constant downsizing, restructuring and re-engineering.
  • Boomers still pride themselves on their ability to survive "sink or swim" management and often they resent the demands of today's young upstarts.
  • Boomer women led the charge for workplace flexibility and now many boomers have caught on to the free agent mind-set.
  • Boomers respond best to leaders and managers who listen attentively to their input and include them in decision making, while challenging them to keep growing.

  • Generation X - born 1965-1977*
  • Gen Xers represent roughly 29 percent of the workforce.
  • When gen Xers hit the workforce in the late 1980s they were typecast as disloyal job-hoppers who did not want to pay their dues and wanted everything their own way. But by the mid to late 1990s it was clear that Xers formed the vanguard of the free agent workforce. Now
  • Xers are growing up and moving into positions of supervisory responsibility and leadership, but they are not settling down.
  • Xers remain cautious and they know their security rests in staying on the cutting edge.
  • Always in a hurry, Xers will often sidestep rules as they push for results. They are willing to take risks to keep learning and innovating.
  • Gen Xers respond best to leaders and managers who spend time coaching, clarifying the day-to-day bargain at work, and give credit for results achieved.

  • Generation Y - born 1978-1985
  • Gen Yers represent roughly 15 percent of the workforce.
  • Gen Yers are children of baby boomers and the optimistic, upbeat younger siblings of gen Xers.
  • Like Xers they have a transactional approach to dealing with employers. But unlike Xers they have high expectations for established institutions - gen Yers have been told by parents, teachers, counsellors and churches that they can do anything. And they believe it - they're overflowing with self-esteem.
  • Gen Yers' facility with information technology makes them would-be experts on everything and they are mastering a new just-in-time strategic approach to thinking, learning and communicating.
  • Poised to be the most capable and the most demanding generation in history, gen Yers respond best to leaders and managers who keep them engaged with speed, customization and interactivity.

* Generation spans according to Bruce Tulgan

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