Understanding Generational Differences

Generation is defined as a group of people whose characteristics were shaped and defined by the societal events that occurred during their formative years.

Generations and Characteristics

 TraditionalistsBaby Boomers Generation XMillennials
(Gen Y, GeNext)
Birth YearPre 19461946-19641965-19811982-2000
Influences Great Depression;
WWII
Vietnam;
Civil Rights
Loss of World Safety;
Watergate
9/11;
Expansion of Technology
View of InstitutionsLoyalty to InstitutionsWant to put their Stamp on InstitutionsSkeptical of InstitutionsJudge Institutions on their own Merit
WorkRespect;
Loyalty
Ambitious;
Political
Progressive;
Cynical
Loyal;
Conservative
Gender RoleClassic Gender RoleMixed Gender RoleUnclearNone
Negative StereotypeCan’t Learn Technology;
Non-engaged
Materialistic;
Work Hard but not Smart
Have not Paid their Dues;
Slackers
Unaware of Lack of Skills;
Require Excessive Affirmation
RewardsA Job Well DoneMoney, Title, RecognitionFreedom and TimeWork

Adapted in May 2010 from Lancaster, Lynne and Stillman, David. (2005) When Generations Collide: Who They Are, Why They Clash, How to Solve the Generation Puzzle at Work. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Understanding the Millennials:

  • Idealistic and team-oriented.
  • Value work that has meaning above all other rewards.
  • Value a work-life balance – know they cannot “have it all”.
  • Demand the absolute newest technology.
  • Lack self-exploratory skills and they move quickly into action.

How to Best Mentor and Advise Millennials? 2

  • Provide lots of challenges.
  • Be ready for student’s demands.
  • Incorporate technology in mentoring relationship (email, blog, Twitter, etc.).
  • Provide reflective and frequent feedback to student.
  • Employ action-oriented events over observational teaching.
  • Collaborate over projects, posters and papers.
  • Mentor in groups.
  • Supplement group interaction with:
    • Individual meetings at set times.
    • Breaking down goals into steps.
    • Providing additional resources.

Adapted in May 2010 from Taylor’s Here Come the Millennial Generation and Their Helicopter Parents-Are you Ready? Presented at NAAHP National Meeting.