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Register for my FREE Soundview Executive Book Summaries webinar!


Be sure to register for my FREE 1 hour webinar with Soundview Executive Book Summaries, coming up this Thursday, June 19th at 12p EDT. Registration IS required, and all who register will also receive a FREE copy of my Sticking Points executive book summary. Too good of a deal to pass up!

Register today!

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FAQ #3 – Generational generalizations: Does location matter?


Today I’ll address another question I’m most frequently asked about the generations…

To what extent do generational generalizations apply in different regions of the U.S. and in other countries?

People are shaped by so many things – culture, family values, age, religious affiliation, access to media, education, socioeconomic status – and generational differences are only one of those lenses by which we can view and understand them. In general, though, the closer people are to farming, the more conservative they are, and the more they are a blend of their own and the previous generation. Because of this, the coasts are more likely to match the generational generalizations, whereas people in the South and Midwest tend to have more characteristics of the preceding generation.

While the generational generalizations I present in Sticking Points are primarily drawn from research in the U.S. and Canada, there are some common factors that made a similar impact on many other parts of the world: the Industrial Revolution, World War II, and access to Western media.

  • Industrial Revolution – The move from rural to urban areas created greater discontinuity with the past and greater openness to new ideas. Many of the generational differences are more pronounced in cities.
  • World War II – Countries that participated in the war most likely had their own “baby booms”, though they may have had them later. Many European countries had booms six or seven years after the U.S. and Canada due to the time it took them to rebuild after the war.
  • Access to Western media – The more experiences people share, especially when young, the more common characteristics they have, even if they live in different parts of the world. Access to global media has made the world smaller.
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Haydn talks “Sticking Points” on Manager Mojo podcast


I was recently interviewed on Steve Caldwell’s Manager Mojo podcast. The focus of Steve’s podcast is to provide common sense solutions to management and leadership issues. I had a great time sharing my experiences.

About my interview, Steve writes:

You have to learn how to identify the sticking points when you are dealing with today’s multi-generational workforce says this week’s guest, Haydn Shaw. Haydn is the author of “Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart.” Haydn is a long time consultant with FranklinCovey and has spoken to over 100,000 people in his storied career. He shares his wisdom and insight on the Manager Mojo Podcast and provides many thoughtful ideas on how to reach the various audiences you work with. I know you will love this episode.

You can download the podcast or listen here: Haydn Shaw on Manager Mojo.

Many thanks to Steve Caldwell. Hope you enjoy.

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Three mistakes to avoid when supervising people your parents’ age


Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

My father-in-law, Bob Irvine, never lectured me when I was a young manager supervising much older employees. Instead, he laughed at “those young college guys who come in thinking they know everything and trying to prove to their bosses how smart they are. They sweep into the department acting like most of what we’ve done for years needs to be fixed. It takes nine months to train them on what doesn’t work when they get out of the classroom and into the real world. Then we can get back to making steel . . . for six months until they get transferred and we have to start over again with another one.”

Even though Bob’s been gone more than a decade now, these conversations we had while working on a car or cooking at the grill came back to me last week during a management seminar I was teaching. A participant asked one of the most common questions about generations: how do you manage people in generations older than you? The Millennial and younger Generation Xer managers nodded when I answered: the research shows that when a person is old enough to say to their boss, “I have boots older than you,” their boss has to lead rather than try to tell them what to do. Managing rather than leading is the most common problem that gets young managers on the road to a “big fail” with older employees.

I’ve seen young managers make three mistakes most often that keep them from leading employees the age of their parents….

Read my entire column here.

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FAQ #2: Arent generational differences really just life stages?


Today I’d like to address another of the most frequently asked questions I receive about generations: Aren’t generational differences really just life stages?

Not exactly. While there are many characteristics and behaviors that can be attributed to specific stages in life, these stages are shaped and impacted by the experiences and values of each generation.

When people complain that Millennials are postponing adulthood and stretching the time they spend experimenting with different careers and identities, they forget that the same was said about the Baby Boomers and Xers when they were in their twenties.

Yet each generational experience has been different, and we can’t ignore that. Here’s one example: Boomers spent more money than Traditionalists did at each stage in life because they didn’t experience the trauma of the Great Depression. They went through the life cycle milestones, but with greater optimism about money. And yet those high, optimistic expectations have also caused Boomers to have, overall, less satisfaction with life than other generations.

Admittedly, generational research is not an exact science, and it’s impossible to completely distinguish life stage behaviors from generational differences, especially when people are in their teens. But over time, enough data comes in from surveys, voting patterns, and purchases to see significant differences emerge so that we can confidently identify a new generation.

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FAQ #1: Aren’t generations more alike than they are different?


Today I want to address one of the most frequently asked questions I receive about generations: Aren’t generations more alike than they are different?

The short answer is yes. But according to Pew Research Center, 79% of the public sees a generation gap in points of view. This might seem like a bad thing, but in reality, it isn’t.

Obviously, we don’t need sociologists to tell us that a 75-year-old votes, works, or buys differently than a 35-year-old. We see it for ourselves at family reunions or in meetings at work. But recent polling by Pew also reveals that while our society is noticing this generation gap, they’re not so sure that the gap is really causing huge problems in our organizations or families – just sticking points we need to overcome. This is great news! It means that generational tensions are inevitable, but generational problems are preventable.

While generations are certainly more alike than different, those generational sticking points can still sidetrack your team, so they can’t be ignored. Most people can relate well to two of the generations but not all four. This is why marketers spend millions of dollars to pinpoint generational differences. How are you helping your employees relate to all generations? How are you preparing your salespeople to sell to them?

Good leadership will work with everyone because people from all generations have the same basic needs. They need to be treated like whole people, not managed like things, and then they will volunteer their best. Understanding generational differences will enhance your effectiveness by allowing you to flex your approach to make each generation more productive.

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Video: Leading multiple generations in the workplace

Today I’m featuring a video that’s a few years old but still very much relevant when dealing with multiple generations in the workplace. From the 2010 Chicagoland Learning Leaders Peer-networking Breakfast:

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Restaurant Briefing: Working through generational tensions


RestaurantBriefing.com recently did an article featuring my five steps to work through tensions between generations. Here’s an excerpt:

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – creating unprecedented challenges for managers and employees… and opportunities.

“These generations might as well be from different countries,” says Haydn Shaw, generational expert and author, Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart. In fact, he continues, they effectively are….

Working effectively with generations is not about managing, it’s about leading, Haydn cautions. “The Boomers were the last generation that responded to management; Gen Xers and Millennials respond to leadership. Moving from management to leadership means stopping to understand why the generations approach life differently. And you’ll need to quit trying to fix or cut a deal and figure out how to motivate different generations by learning how to solve problems with them. You have to get the different generations talking to each other and working through their frictions.”

Read the entire article here.

[Photo via RestaurantBriefing.com]

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Video: Involving younger generations in the family business

Here’s a video from the Minnesota Pork Congress where I discuss how to get younger generations involved in multi-generational family businesses:

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Why Millennials’ parents will stay involved – and why that’s good


Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

In the workshops I teach on generational differences, nothing stirs up more disdain than helicopter parents. We have all seen those parents who constantly hover over their child and then jump to rescue them when a soccer coach doesn’t play them enough or a teacher gives their report a “C” grade. We can tell which science fair projects the parents did for their kids. And don’t get me started on how difficult it is to explain to your Cub Scout why they have to build their Pine Wood Derby car even if they lose against laser cut, professionally-painted versions done by a dad.

Helicopter parents don’t stop when their Millennial child gets a job…. I’m not a fan of helicopter parents, but… the new normal that I tell my clients they need to get used to [is] the involved or “engaged” parent….

There’s a big difference between helicopter parents or what my clients sometimes call “overly involved” parents, and the typical involved parents….

[T]o the generations who couldn’t ask their parents for guidance, Millennials seem coddled by today’s parents who talk to them about everything. But most are not coddled, they are coached. Coached by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who have the relevant experience to help them avoid unnecessary mistakes or hassles. We can deal with generational differences more effectively if we understand that Millennials are the product of the most educated parents in history….

Read my entire column here.

[Photo via surefoodsliving.com]

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