Bridging the Boomer Xer Gap

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					Bridging the Boomer/Xer Gap
    Creating Authentic Teams
  for High Performance at Work

         Connie Fuller, Ph.D.

           Baby Boomers
     Boomers & Xers
Together in the Workplace
  For the next 25 years!
21st Century World of Work
Where, and how, do we start?

 •   Understand and accept.
 •   Identify strengths and weaknesses.
 •   Talk, collaborate, listen.
 •   Learn
 •   Teach
 •   Touch – all the bases!
 Generational Facts of Life
        Boomers: 1945-1962
• 75 million Americans born 1945-1962
• Between now and 2015, one American
  will turn 50 every 8 seconds
• By 2010, est. 96 million people over 50
• Boomers’ generation twice as large as
  their parents’ generation, twice as large
  as Xer generation
• Boomers moving into positions of power
68% of workers between the ages of 50 and 70
   plan to work during their retirement –
            or never retire at all!
What will Boomers want?
 Generational Facts of Life
        Xers: 1963 - 1982
• Between 1998 and 2008, employment is
  projected to increase by 14%
• Labor force aged 25 to 34 will decline
  by 2.7 million members
• Fastest job growth expected in
  computers, high-tech
• Employee tenure in 1998 was 3.6 years
• Two incomes is a necessity
What will Xers want?
 What are YOUR perceptions?

Boomers (1945-1962)   Xers (1963-1982)

What do you expect    What do you expect
 to be the key         to be the key
 challenges in         challenges in
 managing a            working for and/or
 workforce of Gen-     with Baby
 Xers                  Boomers?
          The Kids Won’t Work, and
       The “Old Timers” Won’t Change!

•   Are based on limited information.
•   Are rarely checked – or changed!
•   Drive our behavior.
•   Can be - Wrong!
 Assumptions: Baby Boomers are making key decisions
              Baby Boomers are Team-Oriented
              Baby Boomers will Create Teams, and
              Gen-Xers will hate working on a team!

Study #1
Six Companies
400+ Participants
Measured: Team Values and Team Skills

Study #2
300+ Participants
Individualism vs. Collectivism

Generation X is significantly more
 individualistic AND significantly
more team oriented than the Baby
        Boom generation.

  While Xers value teamwork significantly
 more than Boomers, they are also more self-
   reliant and see a positive relationship
  between supporting personal goals and
             those of the group.
• Boomers had VietNam and the draft;
• Xers did not.
• Working moms were not the norm for
• Xers were this country’s first true “latch-
  key” generation.
• Boomers were loyal to company.
• Xers watched parents get down-sized and
  right-sized out of a job.
• Boomers learned to respect legitimate
  authority, but found a paradox;
  legitimate authority was not always
  worthy of respect.
• Xers respect those who “walk their
• Boomers live to work.
• Xers work to live.
• Boomers put family first by working
  hard and providing nice things.
• Xers put family first by being there.
        Consider the Implications
1.   Boomers expect to be respected because they
     are the boss. Xers will not give respect for
     position alone.
2.   Boomers put work first; long hours and time
     away from family. Xers put family first, and
     friends; will change jobs to get more leisure time
     if necessary.
3.   Boomers followed their parents’ cradle to grave
     approach to work. Xers begin to panic after
     three years in a company.
4.   Boomers want Xers to pay their dues. Xers want
     to be rewarded for their capabilities – NOW!
5.   Boomers want to work forever. Xers want to
     work only whatever time is necessary to get the
     job done, to their own standards.
        New Question?
What kind of organizational structure
 can support the needs of these two
very different groups of employees?
How do we ensure a winning team?
Traditional Model
Community based; holds that effective teams are based
  on common ground and similar interests.

Authentic Model
Based on personal growth; holds that cohesion is a by-
  product of individual identity and openness, and that
  trust is strengthened by honest differences of
  opinion. “Collective individualism” is the means by
  which teams achieve high performance.
         Nine Distinctions
(1)   Traditional
      Interdependence is the key value.
      Individual autonomy is the key value.

(2)   Traditional
      Experimenting with new processes is preferred
      Increasing awareness of existing behaviors is
(3)   Traditional
      Good work is a result of good working
      Good working relationships are the result of
      doing good work together.

(4)   Traditional
      Appropriate behavior is determined by
      conformance to team norms.
      Appropriate behavior is determined by individual
      choice within each situation.
5.   Traditional
     Responsibility and rewards are best viewed in
     terms of team effort.
     Responsibility and rewards are best viewed in
     terms of individual effort.

6.   Traditional
     Values conflict RESOLUTION.
     Values conflict MANAGEMENT.
7.   Traditional
     Attempts to empower others.
     Recognizes only self-empowerment.

8.   Traditional
     Values being “open.”
     Values being “up-front.”
9.   Traditional
     The effective team leader/coach
     puts the welfare of the group
     before his or her own welfare.
     The effective team leader/coach
     looks to his or her own welfare
        Sports Analogy
Boomers 1945-1962             Xers 1963 – 1982
       NFL                           NBA
• Players almost              • Spirit of rebelliousness
  anonymous, dressed                Dennis Rodman
  alike, wearing masks        • Supports its superstars
• Each knows his role         • Self-sacrifice not a norm
• Sacrifice for the good of   • Recognizes and celebrates
  the team                      individual contributions
• Collaboration=Scoring       • Do what it takes to win


     (Factors supported by teams)
• Collaborative work environment.
• Interesting work content.
• Opportunities to develop skills.
• Compensation and rewards based
  on effort.
• Egalitarian organizational culture.
• Positive working relationships with
  managers and co-workers.
        FORTUNE Magazine
       Tuesday, November 5, 2002

• BLS – 13% of American workers are over 55,
  and that number will increase by 20% by 2015.
• Percentage of workers aged 25-35 continues to
• 60% of Boomers say they expect never to retire
• 76% cited flexible work schedules as
  “absolutely essential”
Found: 15 “Best Places for Older
       People to Work”

 –Job Sharing
 –Compressed Work Schedules

    Who else will value these things?
                Make sure,
                 as you move forward
                     into today, tomorrow,
                        and the 21st Century,

That you touch all the bases,
  give credit where credit is due,
      turn our differences into strengths,
         and make yours a Winning Team!
       Connie Fuller, Ph.D., SPHR
      Manager, Human Resources
      AG Communication Systems
           (815) 784-7235


  Bridging the Boomer Xer Gap:
Creating Authentic Teams for High
      Performance at Work
     Hank Karp, Connie Fuller, Danilo Sirias

                Available from
               Border’s Books
          Barnes & Nobel Booksellers