America's CU Conference

Liotta: Be Generationally Savvy in the Workforce

Large-scale retirements will cause a ‘leadership deficit’ in many organizations.

June 19, 2012

For the first time ever, members of four generations are in the workforce together. This requires managers and employees to understand how the people around them think, behave, and engage, generational expert Anna Liotta told America’s Credit Union Conference attendees Monday.

A big part of this means understanding what events people in different generations faced when they were age eight to 18, Liotta says. “These events created an imprint—the higher the emotion, the deeper the imprint.”

The Traditionalists generation (those born 1927 to 1945), for example, was shaped by economic hardship. As a result, Traditionalists tend to be loyal, hard-working, and disciplined, and to hold the belief that charity begins at home.

Three other generations Liotta outlined were:

• Baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964). This group came of age when the sky was the limit, and is driven by optimism. They were given time to explore their interests, and are career-focused. Boomers tend to be driven, optimistic, and competitive.

• Generation X (born 1965 to 1977). This demographic group is the least understood, Liotta says. The first generation of “latch key” children, this group generally is the most socially awkward and difficult for employers to manage. Generation X does, however, embrace collaboration and cooperation, which bodes well for credit unions. Members of this group tend to be skeptical, independent, resourceful, and self-starting.

• Millennials, a.k.a. Generation Y (born 1978 to 1999). This group is “hyper connected,” Liotta says, says, so “give them solutions that let them stay plugged in with you, or they’ll leave.”

Millennials are collaborative, realistic, and tech-savvy.

The retirement of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists will create a “leadership deficit,” Liotta adds, requiring leaders to develop a balance that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.

Highly sought-after Gen Xer and Millennial employees will ask tough questions about your organization’s unique value proposition, she says, including:

  • Why should I work for or join your company?
  • What does your company believe in?
  • How does your company use innovative technologies to solve challenges?
  • What are my immediate opportunities to build my skills?