Fostering Intergenerational Esprit de Corps

March 1, 2007

With the Millennial generation (born since 1980) now entering the workforce, it’ll grow increasingly common in your brokerage for those young people to be selling side by side with Gen Xers (1964–80), boomers (1946–63), and veterans (before 1946). Play to the similarities and the differences of the generations so that they work together like a well-oiled machine.

Be a leader. Leadership is important to them all, but how you exercise that leadership determines its effectiveness, given generational differences. Neither boomers nor Gen Xers like to be micromanaged, so give them goals and let them choose their path. Veterans and Millennials are more comfortable with structure, so you can lead more by showing.

Be location agnostic. If Gen Xers and Millennials seem to spend more time in cafés than they do in the office, don’t assume they’re shirking work; they’re comfortable melding work with a mobile lifestyle. Veterans and boomers are more used to working in offices, so expect them to be around more.

Be civic-minded. Affiliating with a brokerage that gives back to the community is important to them all. Evoking civic duty, and even patriotism, is OK with veterans and Millennials (for whom Sept. 11, 2001, is a defining event). But that sense of duty plays less well with Gen Xers and boomers; their civic motivation comes from a personal sense of right and wrong.

Be tactical in your praise. Millennials come into the workforce conditioned by their doting parents, who were quick to praise. So if they’re doing a good job, you withhold praise at your peril. Gen Xers are more interested in receiving recognition for working smart, not hard. Just the opposite is true of boomers, whose self-image is of someone who loves to work. Veterans see themselves as duty bound, so they welcome praise for stepping up to the plate.

Sources:Peggy Morrow, Peggy Morrow & Assoc. (, Houston; Claire Raines, Claire Raines Associates (, Wichita Falls, Texas; Learning Information Service (, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada