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.