The Four Approaches to Multiple Generations

By Haydn Shaw Senior Consultant, Franklin Covey | March 03, 2013

“These younger employees are always on their phones so much that they don’t know how to make eye contact and carry on a conversation,” the Boomer general manager complains to his counterparts at dinner during a quarterly meeting. The rest of table jumps in with their own stories of Millennial employees who don’t “get” how to provide customer service.

The most common complaint I hear from frustrated people in all four generations is “They don’t get it.” “They,” of course, means a boss, coworker, or family member from a different generation who the speaker believes is the cause of a problem. And in my experience, “it” usually refers to a sticking point—one of twelve generational tensions where teams get stuck if they handle them poorly or stick together if they handle them well.

“They don’t get it” is usually a sign that a sticking point is pulling the team apart. Team members of the same generation begin tossing around stereotypes, making jokes to each other about the “offending” generation. Each generation attempts to maneuver the others into seeing the sticking point “our” way. Older supervisors are horrified. And that’s the first mistake—viewing a sticking point as a problem to be solved rather than as an opportunity to be leveraged. The goal becomes to “fix” the offending generation rather than to look for ways to work with them.

Four Generations: The New Reality

Generational friction is inevitable today because we’ve never had four generations in the workplace. For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace and five in the marketplace:

  • Traditionalists (born before 1943),
  • Baby Boomers (born 1944-1965),
  • Gen-Xers (born 1965-1981), and
  • Millennials (born 1982-2003).

This new phenomenon complicates our work and our relationships and so we cope with it in four ways. The approach we take determines the results we get.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.