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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There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.