4 Voice Actors Walk Into A Bar…..
Samuel is 71, Alice is 52, Brad is 36 and Sara is 21. A sign greets them at the door saying, “please wait to be seated”. Samuel says, “I see an open table” and walks over to claim it. Alice, on the other hand, waits patiently and does as the sign asks. Brad could truly care less about what the others are doing and takes this free moment to check his text messages while Sara holds up her cell phone displaying that she has already reserved a table through the bars sweet new app.
You see, Samuel is from the Veteran generation, Alice is a Baby Boomer, Brad is a GenXer and Sara is a Millennial. How does the generation gap affect their daily decisions and interactions with each other and why is it important for you understand their generational views? Let’s explore.
The Veteran: Born between 1919 – 1942, this generation makes up a smaller percentage of the U.S workforce because many have already retired. They are known as one of the hardest working and loyal generations. Veterans did what they needed to do to survive, cared for their family and took control of every situation. Technology is difficult for this generation and they would prefer to do everything the traditional way. Samuel saw an opportunity for a table and seized it. His mentality is “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
Baby Boomer: Born 1943 – 1961, this generation is filled with hard working, chain of command following, generous, respectful and dutiful individuals. They very much enjoy feedback. Hand a Baby Boomer an award for an accomplished and you will make them extremely happy. Titles are also important to the Boomer generation. CEO, Executive Assistant, Head Pencil Sharpener type titles. They keep their work life and home life completely separate. Boomers love to work and may even be called work-a-hollics. They love initiating and attending meetings and are big fans of teamwork. Although challenging at times, this generation has slowly adapted to todays digital world. For example, most Boomers would say that is distracting to use a laptop during an in-person meeting while the Millennials think it is a necessity. Since this generation is made up of rule makers and followers, Alice chose to follow the direction of the “please wait to be seated” sign.
Generation X: Born between 1962 – 1979, this generation is more cynical and has an attitude of work to live instead of live to work and may be known as the “me” generation. They have an egalitarian view of leaders. GenXers grew up with technology and are very savvy. Things like computers, video games, microwaves and MTV shaped this generation. GenXers are in search of individual freedom, human dignity, stability, tolerance, human rights, diversity and love. Working WITH you feels much better to a GenXer than working FOR you. They always want to have a voice in how things are done and are quick to take charge of any project, even if it is beyond their scope. Brad couldn’t be bothered with where to sit. Why should he be? The others are handling the situation which frees up time to do personal business.
Millennials: (AKA Generation Y) – Born in 1980 and after, this global-centric generation is optimistic, goal oriented, team focused and led. They are enthusiastic workers and learners and are diverse. Because change is so welcome to the Millennial, they will likely have around 17 jobs in their lifetime. At times, they can feel entitled and over confident. This is the generation that grew up with the Internet. Millennials require constant feedback on their work and enjoy praise and pats on the back. It is best not to put a Millennial in a cubical alone. It is very important for this generation to be in constant contact via Facebook, Skype, Google Hangouts, Texting, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc. However, for work purposes, they prefer face-to-face interaction. The sharing of knowledge and new ideas are openly sought after. Since Sara is a child of technology, she used her cell to reserve a table during the cab ride to the restaurant. Plus, she already knew what she wanted to order thanks to the online menu. Isn’t technology cool?
So, how can you best work with all of the generations successfully?
Be Patient: People from the Veteran generation require your patience with todays technology. Understand that getting the job done is basically the only goal. No. Matter. What. Technology will be of less importance than face-to-face hard work.
Be real: If you are working with a Baby Boomer, be sure to keep things real. Always tell it like it is. They may work longer hours than you and may question your work ethic if you don’t work quite as hard. Give them feedback in a straightforward manner, but make sure that it is useful feedback. Don’t waste a Baby Boomers time! Be thoughtful, respectful and to the point and you’ll get along just fine.
Be creative. GenXers see themselves as the force behind technological innovations. They are motivated by originality, creativity and imagination. They seek balance between work and play. A unique point-of-view is always on display from a GenXer. To get their attention, you must be a good listener and be willing to talk about solutions. Remember, the GenXer works to live. Rest assured, the project will get done, but it will get done the way they see fit.
Be connected. Millennials seek the personal interaction and participation that face-to-face communication makes possible.Often times while connecting with you face-to-face, they will be multitasking and interacting with others at the same time via the Internet. Handing out positive feedback like candy will be welcome to a Millennial. Teamwork motivates this generation. The more diverse the team is, the better off they are.
But most of all……BE AUTHENTIC.
As a voice actor, I work with people from every generation. Even the Nexters! Knowing how a different generation thinks can help you work, manage and complete projects faster and with less emotional ties.
I’ll keep talking if you keep listening!
Your friend in voiceover, Rhonda.
Reference materials for this blog were taken from the following sources:
Generations At Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans,
Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace by Ron
Zemke, Claire Raines and Bob Fillpczak.