Four Generations, One Strategy

Sep 09, 2019

By Vince Crew

Vince Crew is tired of all the chatter about how to work effectively with each of the four generations currently sharing the workplace. He suggests it’s time we focused less on the differences between us and more on the enduring, common values that drive workers of all ages.

Can we please be done with all the rhetoric about generational differences and the need to develop distinct strategies for engaging each age group?

If I hear or read one more article by some generational expert I’m going to open my window, channel Howard Beale from the film Network, and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore!”

Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, or however they’re described—it’s enough to drive managers crazy.

Do you think this is the first time there have been old folks, older folks, young folks and younger folks living and working together?

There have always been different generations working together. 

The psychological, marketing, and academic arrogance of the pundits who insist there are traumatic conflicts between generations is simply another example of a complex, expensive, time-consuming solution in search of a crisis.

I’m all about simple, effective strategies that produce great and sustainable growth. So here’s a radical idea: Instead of focusing on people’s differences, let’s focus on the enduring, common values that drive all of us—regardless of our age, race, gender, or any other divisive demographic used today.

For example:

  1. Direction. Focus on the enterprise’s mission and vision, and don’t be afraid to give direct orders and establish reasonable mutual expectations.
  2. Communication. Provide company updates, give individual feedback to workers, and establish clear goals for all teams and individuals.
  3. Respect.  Honor, civility, and decency are values that cut across all generations and to engage workers, increase loyalty, and foster an ethical culture
  4. Opportunity. Everyone wants advancement, either within their current job’s scope, their department, or the company at large. Continuous learning, along with variety and flexibility in work tasks and schedules, appeals to everyone.
  5. Recognition. Public praise from the boss never gets old. Who doesn’t want to be recognized and lauded for their stellar performance?
  6. Money. No one works harder, thinks better, or produces more without expecting/deserving the remuneration of merit pay.
  7. Purpose. Contributing to a shared greater good and feeling like we’re making a difference compels us all to engage, commit, and grow.
  8. Discipline. Ongoing and consistent accountability for one’s actions, regardless of title or seniority, provides irrefutable clarity in the workforce.

There are no absolutes, except the ones you declare as a leader regarding how you treat your people, define your company’s values, and establish parameters that will attract and retain your customers and grow a sustainable, profitable business.

So, stop racking your brain trying to treat everyone differently. Consistently treat everyone with the decency, respect, and encouragement that bind us together when we work toward a common goal: the success of the organization’s mission, objectives, and sustainability.

About the Author(s)

Vince Crew is founder of Reach Development Services (, a strategic growth services firm.  He is also a syndicated columnist and author.