It’s always fun to listen to the various generations complain about the younger generations.   Traditionalists complained that the Boomers didn’t respect authority properly.  Boomers complained that Gen Xers had little work ethic and didn’t follow rules well.  Traditionalists, Boomers and Gen Xers … well, they all complain endlessly about Gen Y!

Seems no generation likes the ones that are younger than themselves.   Yet, what strikes me as funny is that the previous generations CREATED the generations that followed them.

You see, every generation is a reflection of the social, political and economic conditions that existed in their childhood.  And, let’s not forget, how they were parented.  Think about it:  Gen Xers became increasingly entrepreneurial because the Boomers were always at work and they were often left on their own.  Boomers worked ridiculously long hours because if they didn’t someone else would and then they’d be out of work.   And Millennials watched their parents (the Boomers) work themselves to death and vowed never to do the same themselves.

Think about how Millennials were raised.  Over parented.  Over scheduled.  Constantly rewarded (a trophy for participation?).  Never allowed to fail.   Growing up in this environment has obviously created the Millennials as we know them.  Make no mistake though, they are an outstanding workforce.

And now we have Gen Z coming along.  The generation that has never known a phone that wasn’t smart or a world where Google didn’t give them every answer they needed.  It’ll be fascinating to see how they unfold as they enter the workforce.  Keep in mind that when they won’t put their phone down, it’s likely because their parents put the phone in their hands constantly to serve as their electronic babysitter!

The key to managing and getting the best out of each generation isn’t to complain about them.  It’s to understand why they are the way they are.  In that, you’ll understand what motivates them and what it is they value.

Linda Montalbano is a true retail operator with a history of leading large retail teams to success. If you need a fresh perspective on what's going wrong in your stores, Linda is the one to tell you like it is and come up with a solid game plan to turn things around!

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