Marketer recognizes connection between oldest and youngest generations in the workplace

Posted On July 9, 2013

I’ve long recommended that employees connect younger employees with the elder statesmen (and women) of the company – either in addition to or instead of the traditional “next level up” mentor system. From a generational perspective, it seems that this youngest generation in the workforce has a sense of idealism that resonates with older generations – and is wholly lost on the Gen Xers in between.

At MoSoConf – Canada’s mobile and social conference held in Saskatchewan last month – marketing exec Michael Douma delivered the keynote address with a speech titled “Thinking Like a Millennial in an Industry of Boomers.”  Douma recognizes the seemingly illogical gap between the Millennials and Xers, focusing on some basic differences in how each generation responds to marketing.

Why is this important?

First, while the generations exist on a continuum the norms and behaviors they exhibit tend to have fairly clear breaking points. Yes, there are Xers who have Boomer habits, and Millennials who behave like Xers, but on the whole, the generations have somewhat predictable and distinct patterns. Contrary to logic, an “older Millennial” is not automatically more like a “young Xer.”

Second, the conversation is never just about the norms of a generation – it should be about generational norms in relation to one another. This is why the frustrations of a Gen X manager and Boomer manager trying to develop the same Millennial worker will be different. The similarities and disparities between any two generations is distinct to that generational match up.

Progress comes when we understand both our own habits and those of the generations we are trying to lead.

Categories: Baby Boomers, Generations, Product Design, Workplace