Management of the next generation

Last Updated on August 30, 2016 by Diane Hoffmaster

A number of years ago, my husband was dragged kicking and screaming into a management position.  He has climbed the corporate ladder fairly quickly in the 12 years he has been with his company and while we certainly enjoy the increase in salary, he is not enjoying the responsibilities and stress associated with being the man in charge.  He misses those days when he just went to his job, worked on his project, and went home.  Now, he has to deal with interpersonal issues between employees who seem to bicker like children.  He has to take management classes and leadership seminars designed to make him a better boss.  He has to listen to his employees wants and desires when it comes to their work environment.  This is not something he is particularly good at.  I love the man dearly but asking him to sit and listen to me talk about my feelings is a sure way to force him to either A.) Fall Asleep or B.) Start Drinking!   Since drinking at work is usually frowned on he has to actually pay attention at these management seminars in hopes of keeping his office running smoothly!

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At a recent management seminar the focus was on how to effectively manage your staff based on their age.  Did you know that every generation has it’s own ‘needs’ when it comes to their work environment? I found it interesting to read about the characteristics of each generation and compare them to people I know.  Here are a few basic characteristics of each generation.  Where do you fall age wise?  Does the description fit your personality and work ethic?


generation x management

 Management of the next generation


Baby Boomers:  Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are predominately in their 50’s and 60’s.  They are extremely hardworking and motivated by an assortment of bonuses, perks, raises, and increase in status.   They define themselves by their position and professional advancement.  They criticize the younger generations as being lazy and think they have no work ethic.  They are independent, goal oriented, and very competitive.


Generation X:  This group was born between 1965 and 1980. (I fall in this group as does my husband) They are in their 30’s and early 40’s.  They are more ethnically diverse  than the Baby Boomers and more educated.   Over 60% of this generation has attended college.  They were raised in primarily 2 income families with a high divorce rate.  Since there were a lot of latch key kids in this group, Generation X tends to be independent, resourceful and self-sufficient.   They have very little respect for authority and dislike structured work hours. They are annoyed by micro-management and prefer a hands-off management technique.  They are also very high tech, tolerant of alternative lifestyles, and place a greater value on ensuring a balance between work and life.  However, they are also angry…angry at the Boomers for not retiring and angry at the Y’s for being so needy (more on that below!).


Generation Y: Born in the 80’s and 90’s, Generation Y is currently in the 20’s.  This is the fastest growing generation in today’s work force.  They are plugged-in to technology 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They prefer webinars and online technology to face to face meetings and seminars.  They prefer family over high paying jobs and are more than happy to have a job with flexibility and less prestige if it means spending more time enjoying life.  They are team oriented and work well in groups but are very needy, requiring frequent praise and reassurance from supervisors.   There are many more part time moms and stay at home moms than previous generations had.


generation x management

 Management of the Internet generation


Generation Z:  This is still a rather vaguely defined generation but includes people born in the late 90’s through today.  (This is my kid’s generation) This generation is also known as the Internet Generation and they have had access to the World Wide Web their entire life.  Current population is about 23 million people and growing rapidly.  Not much is known yet about this generation yet in terms of personality or work ethic.


I find it interesting that the Baby Boomers were dedicated, hard working, and goal oriented yet had a high divorce rate and spent little time with family.  That generation gave rise to independent children who have little respect for authority, especially management at work!  Maybe because their parents were never around to discipline them.   That rebellious Generation X group has actually passed their love of technology and free thinking attitude on to their children (The Y’s).  However those Generation X parents (ie ME!) raised children that were needy, clingy and in constant need of praise BECAUSE they were around all the time to pat their kids on the head for every single accomplishment.

So, where will Generation Z go?  I like to think that I have found a decent balance between work and family but when I look at my children I see needy, techno-driven kids happy to just float along and enjoy life.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it depends on if you are asking their boss!


One thing that has always bugged me about my kids’ generation is the fact that they get trophies and ribbons for EVERYTHING!  It used to be only #1 got the trophy.  Now, every single kid on the swim team gets a trophy, even if they came in last every single race!  What does that teach our children?  To push harder to be the best they can be?  No, it makes them expect recognition whether they have earned it or not!  Those are the kids that turn into needy employees that require constant praise and recognition.  Check out the book Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y if you have to manage my kids when they get older!

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  1. This is really interesting to read. I'm also definitely Gen-X and I can totally see most of this in my day to day life. The only thing that doesn't really apply to me is the reason for being angry with the Boomers... They entered the workforce with great a huge minimum wage (considering for inflation), great social safety net, and incredibly low costs for education. They inherited the best civilization ever created and now pretend like they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and vote to close all that off from future generations.
  2. i hate that "everyone is special" (then, by definition, no one is special" and all the kids get trophies. it's crazy- the winners should get trophies, the other kids should work harder and hope for next time, and they have other great skills. GRRRR, i am in hate with this "new wave" parenting. LOL
  3. This is a great post! Yes, like you I remember if you came in first you got a trophy and now days everyone seems to get one. This is definitely something I have never thought of in the work place but now that you have mentioned this article I can see what you are talking about.
  4. I am Gen Y and my sister is Gen X - I see a distinct difference between us (although she'd never admit it). Among her peers there is a definite trend towards petty arguing/fighting and also a lack of taking responsibility - when "mistakes are made" they are more likely to shrug it off and move on. Just something I noticed. I know you can't stereotype everyone in a generation but I have seen it so often. And... as a former middle school teacher, I gotta say I am NOT impressed with the "Internet Generation" - VERY poor work ethic and very rude generally speaking - it's very much an "anything goes, except if it doesn't go MY WAY" generation. I think this relates to the 'everyone gets a trophy' part! :)
    • thanks so much for your input! I find trend studies like this rather fascinating :) Guess that is the science geek in me! I have a 12 year old. I work ethic!
  5. This was very interesting reading, Diane. My husband is a workaholic. Very strong work ethic, very dedicated. On the other hand, I'm not as impressed with my kids work ethic. My daughter has never been very motivated before this year when she is a freshman in college. She's now taking 23 hours of credit, has an internship and volunteers one day a week for the USO. So maybe there is hope for this generation yet!
    • I am a sophomore in College right now, a millennial, and I too did the same thing. In high school I did fairly little with my time, but my senior year I really kicked it in gear. I am now a double major that will be taking 18 credits every semester that I'm in college, as well as having a part-time job relating to one major and an unpaid internship for the other. All this while being a tutor at the college . I think my generation is beginning to come around. It just is taking longer than it should
      • You sound incredibly busy and very motivated! It will definitely help in the years to come. My son is 14 and still in the unmotivated stage of life. I think you are right about the millennials...they will get there eventually but it may take longer than their parent's generation did. Good luck to you!
  6. This was fun to read. I fit some of the characteristics for my generation.
  7. Thanks for sharing this piece. My sisters and I are all Generation X Although there are some things I appreciate about my generational roots, I do admire my children's generation in that although they are very plugged in, their passion for conservation, stewardship and outreach is much more prevalent than in my childhood peers. This Mom has high hopes :)

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