From the Silent Generation to the Millennial Generation, life has moved too fast. With the Silent Generation starting in 1925 and the Millennials ending in 1981 the focus on education, business, is changing with what is required to be current in the workforce. The “what’s in it for me” has taken on new meaning, and there are many reasons for this ranging for wars, economics, ethics, life balance, loyalty, and family.
The acceleration of change and the culture of our society and the business are also changing. More and more people are saying that they feel overwhelmed: too much to do, too much information, too many responsibilities, and, above all, not enough time.
One does not need to look any farther than how each of these generations acted in the workplace. With the transition from one-on-one communication, the rotary phone, to social media, and today’s onslaught of communication devices, the art of how we educate has changed. One might even say the learning process has gone backward where others disagree. Have we as a society lost the interpersonal touch or are we just trying to keep up with the accelerated advancements.
The basic required for teaching is to create the knowledge where individuals can advance or in many situations keep pace with change. Instructors need to understand the generational differences and develop lesson plans that are versatile enough to impact a multi-generational audience consisting of the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the Millennials. As a point of reference, the Gen Z born after 1994 predominately have not joined the workforce as of now but what we know is this generation like instant gratification and independence.
The education of the Silent Generation clearly wanted a teacher. Generally speaking, this generation prefers formal education options, with a traditional teacher/student dynamic in which the teacher is a clear authority figure. This generation the children of the Korean and Vietnam wars and Great Depression affected the way the generation lived.
The Baby Boomers want the employer to be a navigator. They’re not content with a single expert provided at a lunchtime seminar; they want the employer to point them in the direction of other experts so they can track down the information themselves. It comes to reason that with the advancement of the internet and the ability to quickly research just about anything this generation wants to understand why things happen from varies viewpoints.
The Gen X group wants the employer to connect them to people. While the Baby Boomers introduced such concepts as a work-life balance to the workplace, Generation X popularized the notion of mentoring. This generation is inclined to create networks of experts. Like the boomers, Gen Xers want to track down information on their own, but they want to validate their findings with a mentor face to face. Rationalizing this thinking, with the rate of change in the industry this generation understands that to be successful continuous learning is required. However, they prefer a mentor to assist them with their learning objectives.
When it comes to learning, the Millennials also know at Gen Y want the best of the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X. This group wants to navigate and find information on their own. They want networks of mentors, and they want powerful, mobile technologies that keep them connected to information and people 24-7. Essentially, they want the employer to create an ecosystem in which they can learn.
The educational diversity of the workplace has placed many challenges and demands on both the companies and the employee. The methods for learning must be varied to create an experience where learning is meaningful and relevant. The requirement with developing a lesson plan is the ability to connect with trainees to improve performance. Having the talent, resources, and financial capital to train is becoming more complicated than ever before and with Gen Z knocking at the door with their desire for instant gratification and independence will only create more challenges.
The fact remains most companies have all these generations and to create a one size fits all training approach will not work. Some fundamentals to consider prior to establishing a training program;
1) when judging performance, don’t measure performance by time alone. There is the quality factor to consider.
2) Create a culture of openness and transparency, including time to discuss shared ideas to create best practices.
3) Evaluate the tools of the business and make a determination whether enhancements with the infrastructure is warranted. Some of the basics, that to observe are workflows, tools, and technology.
4) The last to consider is an investment in your employees. Creating a culture that promotes teamwork, encouragement, and appreciation for a job well done.