Humanities Information

Working With The Generations

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the work force. Although this is an exciting time, it is not without challenges. Working with the generations requires patience and understanding. Each generation brings a new perspective, but we need to learn to value the new ideas, and embrace the change that each new generation brings.

Ten years ago, when I started teaching classes at the local university, I was typically ten years younger than the majority of the students. Now, I am at least ten years older than the majority of the students - and many of my students are in their early to mid-twenties. This diversity in the generations is not without challenge. I cannot expect to teach all of the students in the same way. I have to be flexible and open to new ways of getting my message across. The same is true anywhere you have a blend of the generations. All bring a unique perspective and different ways of relating to their environment.

All of my students at the university must present a report on the challenges and benefits of working with the generations. Most of the students believe that their generation is the best. It is human nature to believe that the generation we are part of is the best. The truth is - they all add value. The trick is to be open to the new ideas and changes that each generation brings.

The four generations: The Matures - born prior to 1946; the Baby Boomers - born between 1946 through 1964; Generation X - born between 1965 through 1980, and the Millennials - born 1981 through 1994, all bring with them different perspectives on life and work. The Matures are dedicated to a job once they take it, the Boomers live to work, Generation X work to live, and the Millennials live in the moment. All have great ideas to bring to the workforce and all can benefit the organization, but we have to learn to value the differences and not get caught up in thinking our generation's way is the best way.

I believe the biggest problem with working with the generations is understanding them. It is easy to stereotype a generation if you haven't taken the time to learn about them. The more you know about a generation, the more you can appreciate them and value their contribution. Reading about the various generations is a great start. The best research of all, though, is to talk to people of various generations, ask questions, and listen.

Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD, is a Certified Master Coach specializing in working with business owners and professionals in being more profitable and productive while staying sane and balanced. Coach Lee is the publisher of the award winning e-zine, 365 Days of Coaching. Her first book, 365 Days of Coaching - Because Life Happens Every Day (Universal Publisher, 2004) was named a finalist for Best Book 2004 by and has a five star rating on Visit Coach Lee at her websites and

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