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Teamwork Skills

Generational Resource

Baby Boomers were born in an era of optimism (between 1946 and 1964) and raised in post-war affluence in two-parent households, safe schools and with job security. They are tied together by the invention of color TV and the belief that progress and prosperity is due to them. Boomers value individuality and youth and are self-absorbed. They were united by sharing the experience of growing up in a time of economic prosperity, so feel freer to take their material needs less seriously, focusing instead of themselves and self-fulfillment. They are not typically technologically savvy and don't like change. At work and at home, Boomers learned about teamwork and collaboration. Baby Boomers invented the phrase, "Thank God it's Monday." and 60-hour weeks. Boomers will work long into their 60s and 70s. Business is their war--the competitor their enemy. For this generation, "work ethic" and "worth ethic" are synonyms. Most prefer work environments that are democratic, humane and casual. They advocate teams and team building, consensus, quality circles and participative management. In leadership roles, their tendency is toward a collegial, consensual, sometimes benignly despotic style. They are the ones responsible for turning the corporate hierarchy upside down. They are genuinely passionate and concerned about participating and spirit in the workplace, about bringing heart and humanity to the office and about creating a fair and level playing field for all.

Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1981 and grew up in an era of fast food and instant satisfaction. Their upbringing was colored by economic turmoil, a recession and the stock market crash of '87. They are latchkey kids. Divorce, drugs, crime, homelessness, declining incomes, and a troubled education system have impacted their development. Gen Xers came of age in an era of fallen heroes. They are self-reliant (had to be as they were the most attention-deprived, neglected group of kids in a long time). Authority figures and the government would not be there to bail them out. Parents were absent due to divorce and the need for two careers to cover the bills. They are seeking a sense of family (and often find it at work). In the absence of parents, this generation has learned to create its own surrogate families by assembling a close circle of friends. On the job, they form tight-knit social groups who get together after work. Xers have seen schools, government, families, churches and big businesses falter and/or be discredited. They saw downsizing and other events change the careers of hard-working parents. Because of this, they're cynical and have no problem questioning authority. However, they are also accustomed to and comfortable with change: new parents, new jobs, new spouses, etc. Xers are freedom-minded, individualistic and self-absorbed. Many have used computers since the first grade. Gen Xers grew up with time-saving devices like the Internet and microwaves so they perform tasks quickly, but tend to be impatient. At work, Xers need response and flexibility. They detest close management. They work to live, not live to work. They want atypical corporations with flexible hours, independence and fun. In contrast to a corporate America that is making itself into team-working organizations, they want to attain success alone.

Millenials (aka Gen Y) were born between 1980 and 2000. They're the first generation to be completely surrounded by digital media. Ninety percent of fathers attended the birth of their children this generation. Millenials were the busiest generation we've seen with parents and teachers managing schedules of soccer, karate, ballet and school. Multiculturalism and globalism are hallmarks of this generation as are terrorism and biological weapons. Millenials watched the re-emergence of the American hero: policemen, firemen and mayors were pictured on the front page of newspapers, featured on TV specials and lauded as they hadn't been in over ten years. Millenials were also raised by involved parents who interceded on their behalf and most Millenials like their parents. In a survey conducted by Lou Harris on behalf of Northwest Mutual Life Insurance, Mom and Dad were most often named when young people were asked whom they admired. At work they're sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential and achievement-oriented. Millenials are confident, being raised by parents who believed in the importance of self-esteem. They're hopeful yet practical, goal and achievement-oriented, civic-minded and inclusive. Millenials are used to being organized in teams and making sure no one is left behind. Millenials are looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. They want to work with people they like (friends not just coworkers). They want to have fun and be silly--irreverence is attractive to them. Millenials seek constant and immediate feedback--they've had it at their fingertips their entire lives and this translates into the workplace as well.

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