SAN ANTONIO — Understanding generational differences in beliefs and values is a key to successful interactions with employees, customers and the children who may run a business in the future, a Seattle consultant told motorcoach operators during UMA Motorcoach Expo 2018.
“A lot of times when we think about other generations, we find it extraordinarily frustrating,” Tara Smith, managing partner of Crux Consulting, said during in the Expo session “Bridging Generational Gaps.”
“We need to understand that our generational experience is a very human response to our original reference points,” Smith said. “It shapes everything we think.
“It is not about being wrong or right. Different generations have different perspectives. We are looking at helping you lead and motivate your employees and tap into the younger generations,” she said.
Broad personality traits have been assigned to generations stretching from the early decades of the 20th century to the first generation of the 21st century, she said. “These personalities are not true of every person in every situation. We are complex and also are influenced by geography, race, gender, our industry and our individual personalities,” Smith said.
“You are you, but the chances are pretty good that something about this generational framework shows up in your life and relationships.”
Our generation is shaped by the world that existed as we grew up, she said. “That is your original reference point. Our early experiences tells us what we think is normal. It is easier to lower our judgment if we realize that we would likely have a similar world view if we had been born with similar experiences.”
Members of the baby boom generation, born from about 1945 to 1964, are perfectly suited to work in the motorcoach industry, Smith said.
“They are hard workers. Their careers play essential roles in their lives. Their career gives them their identity and sense of self. They are workaholics in a 24/7 industry.”
Generations following the boomers have been confronted with more choices and different challenges.
“Generation X was born from 1965 to 1979. They are comfortable with authority and will work as hard as needed because work/life balance is very important,” Smith said. “They watched the ways that their parents’ work impacted their family and that reflects a different relationship in the employee/employer contract.”
While boomers may think Gen Xers are job-hoppers, she said, “The older generations are working longer so the younger generations are leaving jobs due to a lack of leadership opportunities.”
Generation Y, born from 1980 to 1994, is known as the millennial generation and is less influenced by authority and over-hard work.
“Their respect must be earned. They are extremely technology savvy and goal- and achievement-oriented,” Smith said.
“Millenials have an allergy to ‘This is how we have done it.’ They want you to listen to new ideas and create flexibility. This is a much more culturally diverse group. They have allergies to issues of race and gender. Being ‘green’ and socially responsible is important.”
Members of Generation Z, born beginning in 1995, will be entering the work force if they are not there already. “Their traits are still to emerge,” Smith said.
She advised current business leaders to consider “the generational lens from the perspective of your employees and customers. The math is clear — a younger generation of people at some point will be leading your company if you want to have a company that has a lifespan that exceeds your personal career.
“The millenials outnumber the baby boomers. Their cultural footprint is very large. See if there are any places where your audience doesn’t align with the design you have. We have to figure out how to respond to the generations in our workplace. Look for places where you have blind spots.”