Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good Book

One of the great challenges we all face today is how to relate to workers, churches and families with folks from several different generations. It is hard when we see the world through different glasses. In fact, we may even believe that younger people have very different and, therefore, faulty values.

Jennifer J. Deal, research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership, says, "Don't give up! There is hope for leaders and managers." Her very interesting book, Retiring the Generation Gap lays out the results from several thousand studies about various generational age groups and suggests that almost all of us have similar values.

What, then is the problem? Why do we have so much difficulty understanding each other? Jennifer suggests it is because we communicate our values in very different ways.

Dr. Deal researches people by a different set of age cohorts than we usually see. She separates the age groups into:


Silents-----------1925-45---Quieter but with great influence

Early Boomers--1946-54---Right after WWII-Huge

Late Boomers--1955-63----Second Half of Boomers

Early Xers------1964-76---Boom is over-Bad rap from a novel

Late Xers-------1977-86---Younger Gen X

The Silents and Early Boomers have enormous clout. Clout is what separates the generations and attitudes. Many Silents are invisible since the group is smaller than Boomers. However, they are often influential, wealthy and successful. The Silents plus the Early Boomers do not identify themselves as "Seniors" or as "Over the Hill" so they are often left out of our plans.

When Dr. Deal, her PhD. is from Ohio State, sorts out her data she concludes that there are several myths about different generational attitudes. The myth: "Young people are flexible and open to change while Boomers fear change". Ms. Deal says, "That is wrong! Neither group likes change if it threatens their jobs and reduces their resources. The issue of threat is who has the CLOUT!

The book has a subtitle that says it all: "How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground". I suggest that leaders carefully read this and other books about the best ways to understand and influence different age groups.


paula clare said...

Hi Gary,
THANK YOU for posting the different categories and demographic titles. I am a "second half boomer" and find much of the stuff written about boomers is true of the FIRST HALF boomer generation but not MY HALF. I have some of the boomer qualities, but some of the Gen X qualities also...and I know it's NOT just me. I just turned 50, so I have felt that being categorized as a boomer didn't feel quite right. This is better...this makes sense. Thanks again for keeping the public at large aware of these all important "shifts" in the Church!

Gary Sweeten said...

The Bible is clear about the need for shepherds to hear, understand and know the sheep. How can I possibly influence, disciple and motivate folks I do not understand but simply put in some box of bias?