March 14 ~ March 27, 2012 the Resident 860.599.1221 www.theresident.com facebook.com/TheResident.com90
residentDiversity Workplace Generational Diversity Harnessed For Productivity
story & photo by John Stratton
When you wake up in the morning,
you don’t say, “I have to get to FUN!” Instead, you say, “I have to get to WORK!” -- Jim De Maio Learning Dynamics
ork is not always fun. And fun is not always work. But you do it
anyway, and make the best of it, whether you’re a new-generation, tech-savvy independent thinker, or a wise and experienced believer in measured and responsible teamwork. The best companies, though, can harness the power of the generations to improve productivity, reduce “clash points,” and maybe make
work fun as well. But what does a manager do, when facing a meeting at which many of the “younger” workers are busy texting, and many “older” workers are fi dgeting and eager to get back to their “real” work? About 150 business and education leaders gathered February 29 at Three Rivers Community College for a Business Breakfast sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Dominion Millstone Power
Station, and Liberty
Bank Foundation to explore the “Multigenerational Workplace” and its effect on businesses and employees.
Sue Murphy, Executive Director, Liberty Bank Foundation, opens the Business Breakfast at Three Rivers February 29, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Dominion Millstone Power Station, and Liberty Bank Foundation.
The Business Breakfast featured Jim DeMaio, of Learning Dynamics, an educational and cross-industry consulting company that has worked with many business and employee groups from its base in Wallingford. He was assisted by regional panel members representing the four age categories which represented the successful work values of their eras.
DeMaio outlined the broad- brush age categories:
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respectful “Traditionalists” were born before 1946, and shaped by the Depression and World Wars; the “Baby Boomers” of 1946 to 1964 have values that are optimistic, work- driven, and resistant to authority, though they are eager to wield it; the “Generation X” population of 1965 to 1981 is skeptical, seeks a work- family balance, and is unimpressed by credentials alone; and the current “Millennial”
Y” cadre, born between 1981 and 2000, are people hopeful of a bright future, ambitious and collegial, goal- challenging, and relaxed and polite in the face of authority.
Each group was shaped by a particular economic and social environment, a situation which can place them at odds with one another. Yet each group has powerful skills and attitudes which can build strong and fl exible companies.
DeMaio pointed out, for example, the virtues of younger Gen Y people who may seem distracted or irritated by conventional business structures.
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“What are their virtues?” he
asked. “Technology! They are at ease with technology. They question everything. They are multitaskers and self-starters, if you give them a project. It’s not that they want to work less, but that they want to work differently.” So the virtues are there, but they may not sit well with the structured Traditionalist,
the workaholic Boomer, or the autonomous Gen X’er.
DeMaio pointed out a number of “clash areas” that managers should be aware of and work to harness...while still being aware that the four groupings should not be used to stereotype individuals, but rather to detect trends.
Traditionalists who are whiz-kids and Gen Y workers who are loyal structuralists.
One key area is technology. A
manager may not have grown up with it, but “it’s part of who we are now, so appreciate it,” DeMaio warns. Another is authority and leadership: “there are some universals; everyone wants to be treated fairly and the Millennial-Gen Y group wants plenty of feedback.” And DeMaio offers the
“Titanium Rule.” “It’s ‘do unto others’ like the Golden Rule, but the workplace has certain qualifi ers, and it’s not always easy there. After all, When you wake up in the morning, you don’t say, ‘I have to get to FUN!” Instead, you say, ‘I have to get to WORK!’ The reasoning behind work rules and goals has to be made clear to all age groups.
Throughout the presentation,
points were amplifi ed by the management experience of panelists Denny Hicks, of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber; Janine Dunn, of Thames Valley Council for Community Action; Dr. Nick Spera, of the Marine Science Magnet High School; and Jonathan Demers, of Putnam Bank. Sue Murphy and Chandler Howard of Liberty Bank and Nancy Bulkeley of Dominion provided commentary on the multigenerational workplace and its role in creating the leaders of the next generation. Liberty’s Susan Murphy, who co-chairs the Chamber’s Business Education Council with Nancy Bulkeley, offered the managers and educators an action plan that exists outside the workplace.
“If you are concerned about ‘kids not being prepared for the workplace’ -- you are part of the solution.” she said. “Sign up for a school’s job-shadowing program! Be on a business panel at a school! You are a vital link between education -- at every level -- and your business community.” To post your comments, visit
Mutigenerational or follow us on Twitter @Resident_News
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