Thursday, September 20, 2007

Generational Differences

Generational differences need to be added to the cultural mix. Each one has its own “hidden drivers” of deep culture.

The Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, got their experience in command and control type organizations. For them (me!), working hard, long hours and putting the business first is how they learned to succeed by creating value. The newer generations are different. For them, part of their “taken for granted” culture is technology. They also grew up with far more personal independence, in a more overtly global environment where they focus more on output than input. Just like the long summer vacations of the Europeans, the new Generations are actually living what my generation only dreamed of! They want to be measured on the quality of their work rather than the hours they put in or their prowess on the corporate ladder. They want to be mentored, not talked down to. When it comes to working, managing or selling across the generational divides, cross-cultural communication skills will pay big dividends. This is true, whether we run a small business, manage HR for a multinational or we are involved in direct sales in our local market.

According to the US Census Bureau, 2000, racial and ethnic diversity is increasing:

  • Baby boomers: White (74%), Hispanic (10%) African/American (11%)
  • Mature: White (81%), Hispanic (6%) African/American (9%)
  • Gen X: White (66%), Hispanic (14%) African/American (14%)

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