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Generations X and Y Meet

Organizational Behavior

A Practical Overview
Maurizio Morselli, M.S.Ed

Volta Pagina e Vedi Cosa Vuol Dire

Cosa Vuol Dire?
 La generazione di oggi è diversa dalla precedente; grazie alle
moderne tecnologie ha maggiore consapevolezza(o almeno
maggior numero di dati) della società in cui vive. In fondo internet,
cellulari e sms permettono di essere sempre aggiornati su ciò che
accade e questo ovviamente porta a una percezione diversa del
mondo. Prima le cose non si sapevano (e tutt’ora bisogna essere
astuti per saperle bene), per questo l’approccio nei confronti delle
cose era diverso.
 Tutto questo influisce sulle motivazioni ed il comportamento
professionale di queste nuove generazioni.
 Negli Stati Uniti esistono (e’ di moda dare…) etichette generazionali
per indicare le ultime 2 generazioni: X, Y.
 Se la generazione X è cresciuta con la mono-tecnocrazia della
televisione, contraddistinta da un’ interazione passiva, e da
contenuti creati da soggetti esterni, la generazione Y sta crescendo
nell’ambito di una pluri-tecnocrazia dei media, dove l’utente ha la
facoltà di scegliere tra fruizione passiva e partecipazione attiva e
spesso iperattiva…(e non sono necessariamente in contrasto!). Da
soggetto passivo a soggetto ibrido passivo-attivo.
 Questo riconoscimento e’ utile al buon manager per gestire le
proprie “risorse umane; avendo queste conoscenze può utilizzare
diverse strategie di motivazione e gestione del rendimento.
 Allego con piacere un mini-corso a scopo di “awareness” che ho
creato per colleghi qui a New York che hanno un’equipe di
dipendenti X e Y.
What is this all about?
 This program is intended to help identify
the styles of management that some of us
may employ and how they impact “new
age” employees in our respective jobs
 This is not intended to be exhaustive, nor
a primer for how you should manage your
employees; rather, it is good information
and some things I have done in previous
 Finally, this is not the perfect approach;
hopefully, this will spark some
conversation between generations in this
room and your Chapters/Offices
Now, let’s play a game!
 Let’s play “I Remember” Bingo
 We are going to take a few moments
to see if we can go around the room
and identify who is older than the dirt
on Noah’s Ark, or younger than the
clothes you wore to work last week
 The initials should represent the
earliest event you remember in your
lifetime, and you need to identify the
 Don’t cheat!
Here we go!
Oklahoma City Watergate John Lennon First Man on
Bombing shot and killed the Moon

Salk Polio Clinton/ Hitler Invaded Ronald Reagan

Vaccine Lewinski Austria Inaugurated
introduced Scandal

Martin Luther President “The Pill” was The United

King lead the Kennedy made available States entered
March on Was World War II
Washington Assassinated

The Berlin Wall The Space Three Mile McCarthy

Fell Shuttle Island Un-American
Challenger Hearings
Oklahoma City Watergate John Lennon First Man on
Bombing 1973 shot and killed the Moon
1995 1980 1969

Salk Polio Clinton/ Hitler Invaded Ronald Reagan

Vaccine Lewinski Austria Inaugurated
introduced Scandal 1937 1981
1955 1998

Martin Luther President “The Pill” was The United

King lead the Kennedy made available States entered
March on Was 1960 World War II
Washington Assassinated 1941
1963 1963
The Berlin Wall The Space Three Mile McCarthy
Fell Shuttle Island Un-American
1989 Challenger 1979 Hearings
exploded 1954
What was the purpose of the

 Hopefully, this was an icebreaker

that allowed you to get to know each
other a little better
 This also allows us to break down the
generations that are in the workplace
today: The Veterans, The Baby
Boomers, Generation X and
Generation Y
Veterans (1922 – 1943)
now between 61 – 82 years old
 Lindbergh Transatlantic flight ’27
 Lindbergh baby kidnapping ’32
 Stock Market Crash ’29
 Depression ’29 – 33
 FDR’s New Deal ’33
 Social Security established ’34
 Hitler and World War II ’37 - 43
Veterans – Values and Work
 Dedication and  Work ethic
Sacrifice influenced by
 Hard Work manufacturing
 Respect for economy
Authority  Obedience and
conformity over
 Adherence to Rules
 Duty before
 Seniority and age
directly correlated
 Tend to respond
well to directive
Directive leadership

 Much more comfortable with

“scientific management” style (aka
Command and Control)
 Comes somewhat as result of the
military background of this group
 Very conformist, little place for
individual style
Baby Boomers (1944 – 1963)
now between 41 – 60 years old
 McCarthy Hearings ’54
 The Pill ’60
 Assassinations of JFK (’63) and MLK
 Civil Rights (Rosa Parks ’55) (March
on Washington ’63)
 Vietnam ’65
 Man on the Moon ‘69
Baby Boomers –
Values and Work Ethic
 Optimism  Driven by the
 Team Orientation legacy of World
 Personal Growth War II
 Personal Gratification  Can be overly
 Health and Wellness sensitive to
 Involvement feedback
 Service Oriented  Can be judgmental
 Uncomfortable with of those who see
conflict things differently
Management style for the

 While Organizational Behavioral

modifications really began to sink in
with the Boomers, they largely
responded well (and still do) to
“scientific”, directive style of
 However, desire to see a more
referent model begins to emerge
Looking around…

 How many of you are described in

the previous groups?
 Interesting in the fact that the values
and work ethic of the Veterans and
Boomers are natural outgrowths of
the previous

 Let’s focus our attention on

the groups that our main
discussion is based upon…
 Generation X
 Generation Y

What Are Your Thoughts? What

Have you heard About X & Y?

Let’s hear what you think


 Generation X 2 Groups: 5 minutes Report Out

 Generation Y
Generation X (1964 – 1980)
now between 24 and 40 years
 Women’s Liberation Movement ’70
 Watergate and the Energy Crisis ’73
 Tandy and Apple personal computers ’76
 Three Mile Island ’79
 66 American Hostages in Iran ’79
 John Lennon Shot and Reagan Inaugurated ’80-81
 MTV ‘81
 AIDS ’84
 Challenger Disaster ’86
 “Latch key kids”
Generation X – Values and
Work Ethic
 Diversity  “differently oriented
toward work”
 Thinking globally
 “just a job”
 Balance  Flexible hours,
 Techno-literacy informal work
 Fun environment, just the
right amount of
 Informality supervision
 Self-reliance  Multi-tasking
 Give them lots to do
and freedom to do it
their way
What makes them tick?
 They tend to avoid corporate politics –
they have no orientation for this
 They are generally not very interested in
traditional perks but (WARNING!!!) they
will bail out if they see Boomers getting
excessive perks
 They are usually motivated by the
prospect of independence, the lack of
corporate structure, a lack of rigidity, and
the latest technological advances
How do you teach, train and
orient them?
 Does your department actively use Web-based
 This group is not afraid to ask questions. Be
ready, don’t take it personally
 Say at least 3 times – “We want you to have a
 Stress upcoming dramatic organizational changes
 Encourage a learning inventory at the end of each
 Stress the importance of training/learning new
things; however, keep the training materials brief
and easy to read
The Myths surrounding Gen
 They’re materialistic.
 Many are struggling to make ends meet.
This generation is probably the
American generation that probably will
not replicate or improve on their
parents’ lifestyle. They worry that they
will not have the money to pay for a
house and children’s education. They
want to get out of debt. While money is
important to them, material wealth and
status items are largely scorned.
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
The Myths surrounding Gen
 They’re whiners.
 Gen Xers face some rather daunting
challenges – college loans, skyrocketing
health care costs – yet most are
philosophical about the problems they
are inheriting.
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
The Myths surrounding Gen
 They have a “you owe me”

 No more so than any other generation.

 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo

Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
The Myths surrounding Gen
 They’re not willing to work hard.
 In interviews, Gen Xers consistently tell
us they are willing to work very hard.
They don’t want to be taken advantage
of, though. Many believe it’s unfair to
expect a seventy-hour week for forty
hours of pay. And, as a generation,
they’re committed to having a life
beyond work.
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
The Myths surrounding Gen
 They’re living on easy street.
 In the 1950s, young homeowners could
make the monthly mortgage payment
by using 14 percent of their income.
Today it takes 40 percent. And today,
folks older than sixty will get back about
$200 for every $100 they put into Social
Security. Gen Xers will lose more than
$100 for every $450 they contribute.
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
Do not make the mistake of
into the media stereotype of this
 Once again, these are the latch-key
kids all grown up…
 This group grew up with task lists to
be completed with minimal
 “Quality time” is a part of their
lexicon – make it worthwhile when
you have their attention…

Style of management?

 This group, while understanding a

need for conformity in our work, and
respectful of legitimate authority,
wants to see referent power in action
Generation Y (1980 - )
now 24 years old and younger
 Oklahoma City Bombing
 The Internet
 Clinton/Lewinsky scandal
 Columbine High School Massacre
 September 11, 2001
 The popularity of ESPN
Generation Y – Values and
Work Ethic
 Optimism  Collective action
 Civic Duty  Tenacity
 Confidence  Heroic spirit
 Achievement  Multi-tasking
 Sociability  Technological
 Morality savvy
 Street smarts  Have difficulty
dealing with
 Diversity
difficult people
Be prepared…

 Education and teaching

 Business
 Computer related fields
 Law
 Psychology
 Medicine
What makes them tick?
 They love a challenge
 They function well as team members
– a bit different from their older
siblings in Gen X
 They want to be heroes
 They want to be surrounded by
bright, creative people
 They want it – right now
How do you teach, train, and
orient them?
 Allow plenty of orientation time
 Create a clear, realistic picture of the
work environment – good and bad
 Spell out expectations and goals
 Take the time to find out their goals
and help them define a strategy for
meeting them
 Take note that gender roles of the
previous generations do not apply
The Myths surrounding Gen
 The youth of today are “going to
hell in a handbasket.”
 Experts believe this is a fine group of
young people who will make heroes of
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
The Myths surrounding Gen
 Today’s kids are getting a great
 Not all of them. Gregory Schmidt of the
Institute for the Future, Menlo Park, CA,
says, “Tomorrow’s haves and have-nots
are already diverging in today’s third
grade classrooms as they either
advance into the information age or fall
behind for lack of reading and math
skills or access to computers.” (Wall
Street Journal, 2/9/97)
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
The Myths surrounding Gen
 Kids need to spend more time
reading and less time watching
TV and playing video games.
 Kids are spending more time reading.
Business Week reports that surveys
show video games cut into TV, not
reading time. (4/19/97)
 Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo
Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
Some takeaways for this
 They are a unique mix – a very
independent group politically
 They are not as conservative as their
older siblings in Generation X;
however, are not as liberal as their
Baby Boomer parents were when
they were that age
 They are religious, but not in a
traditional sense
Don’t forget…
 These are the children who grew up with
Ronald Reagan as “The Great
 Their morality is an outgrowth of being
raised in more conservative times
 They have largely known prosperous times
(despite a few hiccups in the early ’90s)
 They desire a good education so that they
can make their mark
 Really, they are the Veterans in a different
What will make them seek out
greener pastures?

 They respect legitimate authority,

but they will follow referent authority
 Work does not bother them, but it
needs to be meaningful, not just
busy work
 Overemphasis on outward
appearance – not overall neatness,
but picky on insignificant matters
So, what have we learned?
 Really, X & Y are alright!
 Forget scientific management – the days of “I tell, you
do”, are over
 Referent leadership, with appropriate balance between
boss and team member
 Give X & Y the chance to succeed, with the appropriate
tools needed to get the job done, and they will do it
 If you believe the stereotypes and media hype, you will
miss out on the next great generation of hard workers,
willing to sacrifice and make contributions – however,
take consideration of their values
 Create your own practical approach to applying OB to
your folks, and don’t miss an opportunity to let them
know how much they are appreciated
Thank you
 References
- Generations At Work – Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers
and Nexters in Your Workplace, by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob
Filipczak, 2000
- American Generations: Who They Are, How They Live, What They Think,
by Susan Mitchell, 1999
- Managing Generation Y – Global Citizens Born in the Late Seventies and
Early Eighties, by Carolyn A. Martin, Ph.D., and Bruce Tulgan, 2001
- Beyond Generation X, by Claire Raines, 1997
- The Next Generation, edited by Lester Y. Leung, New England Journal of
- New Generation, New Politics, by Anna Greenberg, taken from The
American Prospect, Volume 14, No. 9, October 1, 2003
- Law Firms Mull the ‘Gen Y’ Equation, by Leigh Jones, The National Law
Journal, March 2, 2005

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