RowBoat3This week we will assist Herman the wonder PM adapt to different age groups on his project.  Note:  Individuals may fit into these groups for non-age related reasons, but let’s visit the research that characterizes them this way.

Is your project Leadership or influence style REALLY multigenerational?
In additional to all the technical savvy needed, you have to deal with
with a mix of different generational values, needs, and predictable communication conflicts based on age.  We are now a more diverse group of generations, causing a real need for tailored management practices by a generational match.  This week, we will provide the best practices and strategies to overcome generational issues  so you can attain a successful  “Ageless” team effort.  First step– make a generational view team org chart and color code it so you can gain some inights.

What seems to divide teams today is a work-centric set of values: Owls/ Boomers (born before 1965), and a life centric set of goals ( Gen X/Y born after 1965).

Where do generational issues come into play?

First, there is WORKSTYLE, and then we will look at training/ learning issues, communication differences, loyalties (company vs. customer), motivation, and different technology needs.

Meet Herman’s core team on this project element:

Born before 1965
–Otis the Owl, age 66, with lots of capability and experience. He wants Herman to control these younger workers who seem to him unfocused, and who keep missing timelines;
–Betty Boomer, works 50 hours a week, and also complains about the work ethics of the younger group with their personal needs and goals more important than getting things done right;
Born after 1965
–George, the Gen X, who does things fast and his way, and doesn’t follow protocols;

-Tex, the Gen Y addicted text messenger who has trouble focusing on one thing, and is constantly surfing the web, and promising everything to customers.

Bob– Herman’s boss (another Boomer) who keeps committing the group to more work, even though there is no time left.

Let’s look at this WORKSTYLE, or work ethics divide: The traditional work-ethic of “work comes first”: Gen X/Y are the LIFE balance generations, who put family and social causes first in their lives. Influenced by their “Boomer” parents with workaholic tendencies, their core intention has been to balance their lives and deal with personal needs first.

Our Scenario:
Bob the Boss:  Herman, we have to add this feature, but I do not want the schedule to slip. Any ideas?

Herman to team:   “To make up time, we all have to work this Saturday: ”
The reaction:

Otis attitude:  “No problem”
Betty tells Herman she will have to sacrifice a family event, but will do it for this project.

George doesn’t believe working the weekend is the only way to get back on schedule and wants to work from home.  He does not agree this is a problem that requires working on weekends and resents the boss (who caused this).

Tex says he has a bicycle race for charity he cannot get out of: he’s got backers.

Herman may need to negotiate with the Life Centric X/Y mode, and see HOW they intend to support the efforts of Otis and Betty, who still prefer to get things off their plate and work the weekend to do it.

The strategy– If the goal is to get back on schedule, each person has to tell Herman how they intend to meet it, and Herman has to be flexible. If he forces George (Gen X)  to work the weekend, there might be even more delays, as George spreads his resentment to other members of the team, and may even be less accountable.  Tex may start looking for another job right away.  He may quit, leaving Herman holding the bag.

Tomorrow:  Can “old dog’s”really learn new tricks?  What is the best way to train, retrain, coach, or implement changes given different generations?

Michelle Jackman


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