A generation according to sociologists consists of people of the same age who have been brought up with the same social norms and therefore have similar values and life goals.
In retrospect, every 15 years a new generation formed and established itself before technological, economic, cultural, and political changes led to the development of a new generation.
What is characteristic for your generation?
When we were born also influences who we are and how we interact with others. Whether we’re part of the post-war generation, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y or Z – the socio-political phase of events to which we belong determines our system of values and our awareness. Living in different worlds and with different stages of technological development shapes our experiences, what we take for granted, our difficulties and our happiness.
This can mean friction between the generations. Friction which can be eased by mediation and understanding in particular – particularly in the workplace where many generations and ideas come together. The key phrase: generational diversity (2). An awareness of the different characteristics and values of each generation can help mixed-age teams be more successful.
Post-War Generation (1946–1955)
Wars leave their mark. Children of this time therefore learn that the only way to make progress is through hard work, discipline and thriftiness. The result: the economic miracle.
Baby Boomers (1956–1965)
In a time of peace and social security, the birth rate rises. And because there are so many babies, they learn to cooperate and to assert themselves. Life revolves around work and people are extremely willing to make sacrifices to achieve success.
Generation X (1966–1980)
They have a sheltered upbringing or are “latch-key kids” to busy parents. This generation is shaped by an individualistic attitude towards life. Increasing unemployment, however, leads to uncertainty, as does the power of the markets.
Generation Y (1981–1995)
Television, video games and globalisation are part of everyday life. Multi-cultural and liberal-minded, generation “why” takes a critical view of the future.
Generation Z (from 1996)
The World Wide Web and digital communication shape the so-called iGeneration’s attitude towards life. New possibilities for communication and self-presentation are being discovered. Access to knowledge is quite literally a matter of fact.
The generation of tomorrow
So what comes next? Germany will become the oldest nation in the world. Social networks will assume the function of family. Business will only be conducted virtually and employees will meet in cyberspace instead of in the office or factory. Technical progress will grow exponentially – forcing both young and old to keep up. Those are just a few of many possible scenarios. One thing is certain: there will be plenty of challenges in store for the coming generation, too.
Based on: Klaffke, M. (ed.) (2014). Generationen-Management – Konzepte, Instrumente, Good-Practice-Ansätze. [Generation Management – Concepts, Instruments, Techniques for Good Practice.] Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien