Each generation is different. In fact, some generations are so hard-wired and hardcoded with their own values, that they may overlook the views of others. However, if we understood the generations outside of our own we could better sympathize and empathize with them in our daily lives, workplace, and family life. To help us comprehend each generation, we’re joined by Chris De Santis, organizational behavior speaker, facilitator, consultant, and author of Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work.
Chris describes each generation in detail and generalizes the values and beliefs of those generations. He also explains generational differences, defines what it means to be a humanist, and shares why he believes the best teams are complementary instead of competitive. To conclude, Chris reveals details from his book, the key to generational harmony in a business, and how our early years impact our outlook on life’s principles.
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Read Show Notes From This Episode (click to expand and read notes from the full interview)
- B to Z: Boomers to Zoomers. That was the original title of the book that became “Why I Find Your Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work”
Wes talks about how Chris is a humanist – a person who believes in humanity above all else. It’s about how we believe in people and what resources we allocate to them to help them be great at something. We can’t all be great at all things.
Chris thinks the best teams are complementary toward each other as opposed to competitive.
Chris wants to make sure people know that he is generalizing.
A lot of first-generation young people don’t always have the same experience as others.
They came of age in the 1920s and 1930s. They saw the Depression around them Socioeconomic moments that stay with us. Scarcity was always in the back of our minds. Messaging was such that we only had the radio. Everyone heard those programs. People were more aligned. The Government was more aligned too. This made the transition to WWII easier, too. They are the builders under what we reside now. But we’ve transitioned from a hierarchical to a more transactional space.
The last of the covenant generations. The early boomers lived in the “company man” – if you worked somewhere, you stayed until retirement. The latter ones realized that wouldn’t work. More rural than urban. Boomers always complain about employees not being loyal. It used to be that a person would put up with bad boss after bad boss until finally, that person got a chance to be the bad boss. The promise of employment. Inferred promise – as long as you jump through every hoop, you’d have a job. When you meet a boomer, you meet the whole package.
Gen X: 1965-81
Gen X saw the “promise” disappear. There’s a duality to Gen X’ers. It takes a while for them to reveal the whole package. More apt to say “I can marry whomever I want.” Gen X feels that young millennial workers are “needy.” Chris says it’s more about the fact that Gen X’ers aren’t needy. They were alone more and figured it out.
Never had the promise. Divorce rates are going down because they are waiting longer to marry and are more selective about who they marry. Marrying like to like. Assortative mating. Not stepping outside of their socioeconomic class. Very serious about who they will be partners with.
Millennials get a lot of press. They had a short window – about 10 years – of an economic uptick. Dotcom boom. Inherent optimism to them. They were raised in a bubble of love, all the attention the Gen X’ers did not get. In the habit of dialogue with their parents about what is going to happen. This can be a challenge in the workplace. They assume everything is a conversation. We slap them down for not knowing the rules. The millennials think Gen X’ers are a little aloof. When millennials tell people all about themselves, inherent in that is that they expect you will do the same. The millennial is looking for a purpose in life. Millennials are digitally fluent. Gen Z just lives it fully.
Gen Z: 1996-2012
Gen Z is also looking for purpose but they go a step further and do the “side hustle.” They are monetizing their interest. Partly comes from being a child of scarcity. Partly from wanting to be influencers. Millennials are digitally fluent. Gen Z just lives it fully.
After 2012: Gen Alpha as a placeholder name
Chris worries about the “police state” mentality that school shootings may have created in the minds of kids.
People irritate us. If someone is different from us we don’t try to understand it more. Instead, we go down the hall and try to talk to someone who is more like us.
We don’t see younger people at the office as our children. We see them as who we were at that age. We think “you should be like this.”
Wes works with Boomers the most. They’ve done well financially. How would Chris generalize them from a financial standpoint? Chris says there are 2 kinds. The ones who worked in the company model and they’re glad to be retired and enjoying it. Then another huge cadre of them who are still working and still making a contribution because they enjoy work. Chris is like this. The Pseudo-Retirement. It’s hard to have succession planning with them because they still love working.
When it’s the case where money can be accumulated more and more and not redistributed at all, people follow that trend. The key to the success of any society is more people in the middle. If you don’t have a middle, you don’t have cohesion.
Chris is a fan of embracing our differences to our collective advantage.
Wes says that, ironically, he does not find Chris irritating. Laugh.