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Workforce Generational Differences

Workforce generational differences can create challenges for small business owners.
Currently, we have five different generations active in the workforce.  Each generation has different expectations when it comes to work habits. A generation is defined by a group of people that are in the same age range that were raised in about the same area geographically and experience the same life events. Parenting styles also play a part in generational traits. Generations can be divided into the following categories, birth years and traits:

Workforce Generational DifferencesDefining Workforce Generational Differences

Matures, 1900-1945 (The Silent Generation) They were influenced by the Great Depression, WWII and Communism. Due to the strength of the military, this generation rose in the workplace in the command-style management that made them respect authority based on hierarchy and protocol. They are practical, have a dedicated work ethic and show authority a great deal of respect. They believe in self-sacrifice and they are very conscious of money and value each penny earned.

Baby Boomers, 1946-1964 They experienced the opposite of the Matures as they grew up with unlimited opportunity. Television was a cultural experience, as was the Vietnam War, the needs of children and women, the Sexual Revolution and the Civil Rights movement.  With population density the Boomers were forced to compete in the workplace, which made them work very hard. They are optimistic, and driven to do good work. They felt that what you do in your work defines who you are in life. They also treated money in a different way than their parents by spending more on non-essential things like recreational items.

Generation X, 1965-1980 (Latchkey KidsThis group experienced global economic erosion and saw how their parents’ jobs were restructured. This led to social problems such as higher divorce rates, rising crime and unwed births. They were introduced to the personal computer and saw the fall of the Soviet Empire. The Gen-Xers grew up self-sufficient with both parents working. They learned not to trust societal promises and that nothing is permanent. Gen X has a skeptical outlook. They consider themselves free agents that don’t respond well to micromanaging. They expect to be getting what they work for and want to be entitled to rights and privileges that they earn. This generation works for their lifestyle and have high expectations of those in leadership roles.

Generation Y, 1981-1994 (Millennials) This is the first generation that has been celebrated by their parents and extended family. They were raised by parents who over compensated their own broken childhoods by continuous praises and awards. They feel they are greatly appreciated by everyone. Gen Y was raised in a technological era where cell phones, the Internet and instant communication all emerged.  They were impacted by 9/11 and the wars in the Middle East. They are confident, but not great problem-solvers. They don’t differentiate work and life as they feel their work should reflect their lifestyle. This group is greatly influenced by their peers and have the perception that everyone should be treated fairly. They do not value money, as it has been something that they come by from their parents or by chance.

Generation M, 1995-2005 (Multi-Tasking/Linksters) This group is just entering the workforce. They are mentally able to balance conversations and stimulations that are happening simultaneously. They are able to follow examples that they are shown. This generation does not respond well to criticism. They have been told that anything is possible and that they are not at fault when things go wrong. They are used to being a part of a team and they are involved with highly-scheduled activities. They do not think outside of the box very well and tend to struggle with how to handle free time. Their culture has taught them to crave attention and to be comfortable sharing private information about themselves. They have been impacted by social media and always having an electronic connection in some way and often more than one.

Finding generational harmony

In order to build a cohesive team in your business it is helpful to consider the generation that your employees fit into. Research shows that Boomers and Matures feel younger than their actual age. The younger generations do not share this feeling and often perceive or treat the Boomers and Matures older than they feel, often causing a great deal of animosity when it comes to working together.

Everyone must consider the different values and expectations. A Mature or Boomer will be respectful of the fact that you need to double-check to be sure that you are authorized to complete something. They have a respect for authority and find value in hierarchy-structured management. They are also more cautious and believe in doing things the right way first. A Gen X employee might be bothered by this and feel that a Mature or Boomer lacks leadership and decisiveness. Gen X questions those in charge and has learned to doubt leadership because of the failure they have experienced in the economy and government.

Want more information on managing your small business, check out Open for Business Magazine or the all Rule of Thumb Series of Small Business Books


Sparring Provides Improvements

Do you have a great business idea? Having an idea for a business can be the impetus that gets us started in our own business. But, do you have the wherewithal to do the work, day in and day out, to bring that idea to life? According to GrowthWheel there are seven action steps to move your idea to fruition. They are, Ideation, Research, Decision-Making, Sparring, Testing, Documentation for conviction, and Presentations to sell ideas. I will be sharing a series of blog posts to discuss each of these ideas. I hope they strike a chord for you and help you move your idea forward.

The first is, Inspiration for Ideation. Ideation is the act of getting ideas to move us forward. There are several ways to get an idea chain moving. (See prior blog post on this topic.)

The second is, Research that provides knowledge.  Perhaps you already have a plethora of ideas or have a couple that you are trying to choose between. What’s next? Research. Doing research up-front will say you a lot of legwork and heartache. (See prior blog post on this topic.)

The third is, Decision-Making that leads to action. A strong decision leads to action. This step of creative business development is vastly important because it will lead you forward from the first two steps. (See prior blog post on this topic).

The fourth is, Sparring provides improvements.

 Sparring Provides ImprovementsSparring in this sense means to meet and discuss with others the ups and downs of your business idea. Whether those people are your business partners, an advisory board, or even a coffee club, these experienced, “wiser” people can offer insights that can make your business venture more successful more quickly than you can alone.

Some of you may have found a mentor who is encouraging you in building your business. Mentors are those helpful, wise souls who offer their guidance free of charge to you, just because they see a spark in you and they believe hold great things.

This step of sparring, or sharing insights and information can help your business move forward more quickly than you can do simply by doing all of the research and decision making on your own. “Many hands make light work” goes the John Heywood saying, and that is true of brainstorming ideas as well, the more the merrier.

Whether you have a trusted advisor or not, it is never too late to get started. Who do you trust that you can ask to help you brainstorm and talk through your ideas and get their insights in return. Those earlier steps are important and need to be done, but at some point we all need to hear from someone else. Set up a meeting and get started. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you want to get started on growing your business? Then check out the our Growth Series Workshops, where we will learn all about the seven action steps to move your idea to fruition.


Social Media Tips To Boost Sales

We live in an age of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are some of the many sites businesses use to promote their products and services. We’ve outlined three tips to boost sales and make the most of your social media sites to promote your business.

Social Media Tips To Boost Sales

80/20 Rule

We love this rule. Eighty percent of your content should be educational, informative and fun, whereas only twenty percent should be advertisements. You don’t want to bog down your audience by continuously endorsing your company’s products and services. This will only lead to them un-friending, un-following or un-linking your company page. Use your social media sites as a way to gain credibility with your viewers, not to continuously advertise.

Vary Your Content

To continuously engage your audience, mix it up! Post pictures, quotes, articles, updates on the business, advertisements, etc. Be creative. Have fun! There are plenty of ways to vary your content while still getting your message across.

Don’t Over or Under Post

There is a fine line between under and over posting: between your audience looking forward to your posts or ignoring them. It can be difficult to find that balance. When posed with the question, “how much should a business post”, we decided to do a little research. A 2011 study found that on Facebook, posting once a week was too low, yet posting more than twice a day was found to be annoying. The perfect amount was between five to ten posts per week. With Twitter, the magic number was three times a day and LinkedIn, it was twenty posts per month. Now, these numbers vary depending on your business, but we believe they are a good estimate on how often your company should post content.

Sharing more information than advertisements, varying your content and finding a balance in the frequency of posting. These three tips will help you better utilize your social media sites, gain a larger audience and increase your sales. In addition, make sure to check out this video on some surprising facts about social media.

Want more great sales tips check out the books Rule of Thumb: A Guide to Sales Strategies or attend one of our Small Business Workshops.


Learn Better In-Person?

Do you learn better in-person ? Attending presentations, meeting, swapping ideas and business cards, and joining discussion groups —these are just a few aspects of in-person training events that cannot be replaced by other forms of online education.

We tend to learn better in-person.Learn Better

Although the advantages of telecommunications cannot be ignored —it makes communication instantaneous, cheaper, and more convenient—it’s important to remember that before all the advancements in science and technology, people used to interact with each other more.

Why is this? Because of the fundamental reality that humans are social beings. The young and an increasing number of adults now find themselves active on social media, but their search for connections show that people crave human interaction. According to Ray Williams, a contributing writer for Psychology Today, human interaction is fundamental to one’s life and is one of the defining human characteristics that separate us from the rest of the species in the animal kingdom.

As the saying goes “Learn More you Earn More!” Check out our great authors and trainers or attend one of great workshops.