Leaders are often challenged to connect with and motivate team members outside of their own generation. I’d like to think that those of us in the creative field are a little bit better at this, specifically with younger generations as us creatives are “hip” and potentially more technically savvy than leaders in other functions. But reality would quickly set in when a Generation Y team member would talk to me about foursquare (which I had to look up to make sure I correctly represented the name), and they weren’t talking about the game with the red rubber ball—of which they knew nothing about.

I recently read an excerpt[1] of an interview with Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky[2] that explained the four generations currently working and motivating factors for those generations. Dr Grodnitzky describes those generations as such:

  1. The Silent Generation/Traditionalist, born 1925–1945. These workers are traditionally motivated by their desire to leave behind a legacy and are extremely loyal. Typically these folks worked for the same employer for most of their career and rarely took risks—they accepted what was served up to them.
  2. Baby Boomers, born 1946–1964. These workers work hard (and long hours) to achieve success. They measure success by the things they acquire, thus compensation is extremely important to this group.
  3. Generation X, born 1965 to 1981. These are the children of Baby Boomers who saw their parents work extremely hard and long and are rejecting that way of working.  In fact, this generation prides itself on how productive they are within their day without need to work excessive overtime. The practice of work/life balance is extremely important to this generation, and they want to be measured by their output, not the number of hours they sit at their desk.
  4. Generation Y/The Millennials, born 1982-2000. These workers live a “blended life”—technology/being connected is not a choice, but a way of life. Responding to a work email while watching prime time television—they were already on their iPhone/Droid posting to Facebook, whereas other generations are more likely to needed to boot up their computer or, at the very least, go find their phone. These folks are motivated by their peers—they want to work with people they like.

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