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    Entries in generations (4)


    Millennials are the best. And so are Baby Boomers

    Quick and amusing take for a 'Freezing to Death Friday' in Western New York.

    Take a look at the below chart, courtesy of Lendingtree.com survey of 1,000 US workers on perceptions of co-workers spanning three generations at work - Millennnials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. Each person was asked to rate co-workers of the three generations, including their own, across a set of workplace qualities.

    Here's the chart - think about what stands out as you scan these generational ratings:

    Did you catch a theme in these ratings that each generation gave to their own generation, as well as the others across these various qualities?

    In case it got lost in all the numbers and colors and bars what stands out to me is this:

    Across EVERY category, Baby Boomers rated their own generation, (the other Boomers), higher than their Gen X and Millennial counterparts. Every single quality. Including, I might add, 'Skilled with Technology'.

    And the Millennials?

    They rated themselves the 'best' generation on every single workplace quality but one - Productivity.

    And Gen X?

    They mostly flip-flopped between ranking themselves and the Boomers the highest across these workplace qualities. And also for some reason, they rated Boomers the best at 'Skilled with Technology'. Maybe Gen X is still kissing up to the Boomers in charge, I am not sure.

    What does any of this mean? Probably not much. But I found it interesting (the only criteria for inclusion on the blog), and kind of funny too. It turns out that for the most part, at least according to this data, we all think that people in our own generation are the best. I suppose that isn't too surprising.

    Now get off my lawn. And have a great weekend. And try to stay warm!


    CHART OF THE DAY: We can FINALLY stop talking about millennials

    In what has to be interpreted as a signal to the tens of thousands of workplace/leadership/management professional speakers and pundits out there that it is time (finally), to update those PowerPoint decks from 2009, it looks like we need to stop or at least slow down our collective fixation with Millennials.

    Take a look at today's Chart of the Day, courtesy of the fine folks at Goldman Sachs and let's together pour one out for the Millennials and raise one up for what is coming next. Here's the chart and as you have persistently demanded, some comments from me after the data:

    Awesome looking chart, right? And from the looks of it, it is time to stop worrying so much about the Millennials and start thinking about Gen Z! What might this mean to the rest of us - besides all the 'Generations in the Workplace' people that need to update their slides I mean?

    I have three quick takes, then like the Good Gen X-er I am have to go make the donuts...

    1. Technology - this is the first 'post-internet' generation. They have never known a world without almost constant connectivity, ubiquitous wifi, and life attached to their devices. Waiting for any kind of information is something they are not used to, nor will tolerate very well. Everything has to move faster, be more easily consumable, and actionable. If you thought the Millennials were annoying, just wait until your first set of Gen Z employees comes through the doors, (very soon), and laughs at your antiquated set of systems and processes.

    2. Diversity - In line with the increasing diversity in the population overall, Gen Z will be the most diverse generation in US history. According to Goldman, the majority of Gen Z will be non-white by 2020 or so. And with this diversity in composition, it seems likely that Gen Z-ers will also be the most accepting of diverse workplaces and teams. In fact, many of them will not even consciously think about 'diverstiy' in the ways that Gen X and Boomers always have, (and have needed to). To Gen Z, the team won't really seem 'diverse', it will just seem like 'the team.' I am not smart enough to know exactly what that means for corporate diversity and inclusion efforts, but I bet it will mean something.

    3. Backlash - In about three minutes from now, someone will take a shot at me or at this post for 'generalizing about the generations'. This person will probably be an older Gen X-er or possibly a Boomer. These people are cranky and should be ignored. Yes, I know not every Gen Z-er is the same and not every Boomer is some kind of Luddite. EVERYONE knows this. The point of talking about generational groups and trends is not to try to explain the motiviations and actions of EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD. The point is to try and make sense on a macro-level of how the shared experiences and enviroments of people who grow up in similar cultural, societal, and economic circumstances impact how they see the world and what that means for the world. And I think having that kind of understanding, or at least having the discussion, is important and valid.

    Ok, that's it from me. What say you? Do you care about Gen Z at all? Or are you happy (like I am), not to have to figure out how to spell 'Millennial' all the time?


    The new rites of passage

    Dads and sons have always had some kind of rite of passage, when the son proved that he was ready to be more of an equal, more of a grown-up. The old rites of passage for little boys used to be mostly physical, i.e. the son would finally defeat the Dad in one-on-one basketball or in an arm wrestling contest. Now it seems more and more that these rites of passage, or at least these more casual acknowledgements of a son or daughter moving up closer towards adulthood involve technology. Now these rites are likely to have as much to do with a parent, (like me, for example), breaking down and having to ask my son to explain how to adjust and align the apps on my new iPhone.

    And it doesn't stop with the iPhone - I have asked my middle schooler to help me with sound editing the podcast and music files on the HR Happy Hour Show, to use photoshop to fix some images I needed for a presentation, and even as my 'one-kid-focus-group' in my totally unscientific attempts to think about where technology might be heading and what kinds of tools and interfaces the next generation of workers might prefer. These, at least to me, are pretty serious, and kind of important things.

    But when I look back, just one generation, I can't imagine a time when my dad would have asked a 13-year-old me to explain anything important or help him with anything that really mattered in his professional life. 

    I helped by cutting the grass, shoveling snow, and performing various and sundry menial labor kinds of tasks that certainly helped my Dad out, but were not really meaningful or important in the larger sense. Sure, you can go on about teaching kids the value of hard work, of the value of dignity in that kind of work, and I get that. But it's just that I for one never have looked longingly back at my childhood and thought, 'Man it was great training for life, all that grass cutting and weed pulling I did back then.'

    I thought about this last week when the area where I live was hit with about one foot of wind-driven snow.

    Snow drifts the next morning were up to 3 or 4 feet in places, (including much of my driveway), and I had to spend a few hours digging out. My son was out of town on a school trip (Convenient!), so was not available to enlist in forced labor be taught the lessons and values of hard work.

    The entire time I was working on clearing the driveway I noticed exactly zero other kids out and about in what is normally a busy neighborhood. No kids shoveling their own driveways or walks, no kids or teenagers working the neighborhood with their shovels trying to earn a few dollars by helping residents dig out, no kids even outside playing in the fresh foot of snow.

    Back in the day an enterprising kid or teenager could have and would have tried to earn $50 or even $100 if he/she busted it all day with a shovel. But those days are long gone, I think.

    Today I bet all the enterprising kids and teens decided to stay inside on that snowy day - making their videos, learning to code, building apps, working on the next generation of amazing stuff that we will have to ask their help with in learning how to use one day.

    Have a great week!


    CHART OF THE DAY: Do you trust this chart?

    ...if you are say about 25 or 30 years of age, you probably don't.

    This week's installment in CHART OF THE DAY comes courtesy of the recently released Pew Research Report titled Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends, a look at how the Millennial generation is transition into adulthood.

    One of the more interesting findings is that, at least according to this report, the Millennials are much less trusting than the other, older generations. Take a look at the chart from the Pew report, then as you have come to expect, I will have a couple of comments about the data.

    My thoughts on the chart:

    1. There exists a pretty vocal cadre of people that think that all of these kind of generational differences research reports are silly, and that people are all individually distinct, and thus making broad conclusions and generalizations about entire generations is a wasted effort. These people are also wrong.

    2. Could this lower relative level of 'trust' be a factor of the Millennial generation's observance of their parents experience with work and workplaces, which to at least some degree involved the breakdown of things like the employer-employee trust relationship, the ongoing decrease in organized labor, and the gradual phasing out of defined benefit pension programs? Do Millennials 'trust' less because their parents trusted their employers too much?

    3. It could be that the lower 'trust' levels are also a reflection of Millennials own economic challenges. Facing a tough job market in the last several years, feeling the pressure of (for many), significant student loan debt levels, and seeing their friends and themselves having to take jobs outside of their fields, and often in the service industry where low wages, limited benefits, and lack of stability prevail. 'Trust' could be a function of vulnerability. The more vulnerable you are economically, the more wary you become.

    Anyway, have a look at the entire Pew Research report, it offers some interesting data on how this important generation is transitioning into adulthood and what their attitudes suggest for the future of work, workplaces, and the society at large.

    Happy Wednesday.