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).
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Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.