by Jim Welch
 
Investment recovery professionals are required to work with many groups within their organizations. Bringing out the very best of each generation every day is a clear roadmap to leadership success. Leaders who win consistently find creative paths to motivate generations to collaborate in new ways in order to win and grow the business together.
 

KEY GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES
Millennials (Generation Y), born after 1978: Millennials were raised by child-focused “helicopter” parents who provided frequent feedback and praise on an ongoing basis. This is important to you

as a leader because Millennials tend to interpret infrequent feedback as negative. They will ultimately feel under-appreciated and leave your organization for greener pastures. As a Leader, you can make a difference with Millennials by focusing on frequent feedback and strong praise for a job well done when it is well deserved. When you are coaching Millennials, separate the issue clearly from how you feel about the overall performance of the employee and their value to your team.
 
This generation grew up with computers always fitting in their backpacks, text messages ruling communication, and Google always being used as a verb. Their birthday is a much greater event than it is for earlier generations and they expect their leader to acknowledge them on that important day. They grew up in a world where birthdays are celebrated. A leader who does not acknowledge a Millennial’s birthday or company anniversary may unknowingly create a rift with that employee that may be difficult to repair. The on-boarding process for Millennials is really important for retaining the very best employees. Plan to make their first day very special and use another experienced Millennial as a “buddy” system to support training activities.
 

Millennials work very well in teams and are great collaborators. They sometimes need to be coached to address difficult situations and conflict more directly in their interpersonal relationships. Millennials’ comfort with technology can sometimes cause them to rely too much on text messages and e-mails to

try and resolve conflicts that would be better handled face-to-face.
 
Generation Xers, born 1965-1978

“Gen Xers” are today’s 30-something leaders who want to make the next step in their careers. Generation X employees are all about self-reliance, independence and building their skill-set portfolio. It is critical that you emphasize enhancing these key aspects when coaching a Generation X employee about their career. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the self-reliant and independent
attitude of Generation X employees can get them in trouble. They have a tendency to move aggressively toward a goal and not bring everyone else along for the trip. They tend to have little patience for process and are all about achieving their goals and objectives. Continuing to coach Generation X employees on how to be strong collaborators can be very helpful to their career growth.

Gen Xers also like their leaders to be informal coaches rather than formal bosses. This generation will also be far more likely to join you on a journey when they believe you will help them develop their skill-set portfolio along the way.
 

Baby Boomers, born before 1965
Baby Boomers are all about goal attainment and making a difference. Leaders who coach Baby Boomers will be more successful when they acknowledge the difference this employee makes to the broader organization every day. Baby Boomers want to be respected for their experience and for the
scars on their back from all they have been through. Great leaders will seek out Baby Boomers

and ask for their input on how to move forward on various initiatives as well as acknowledge how much their experience level is valued and appreciated throughout the organization.
 

Baby Boomers are always very optimistic about what they can do and often have a strong desire to please their leader. This combination can get some Baby Boomers in trouble when they take on too many initiatives and get in over their heads. Leaders should always be sensitive to the workload

that is on their Baby Boomer employees’ plates and whether or not they are overloaded.
 
Summary.

Focusing on the differences in effectively leading these generations will make each group more valuable on your team. Also, look for opportunities to put together cross-generational teams to work on top priority initiatives together. Each generation brings a perspective that is critical to your ongoing

success.
 
Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 5, 2008

© The Investment Recovery Association