Project manager and the Generational Competence

the Generational Competence

The working class is changing, and with it the working team.

For the first time, in Italy there are up to 5 different generations in one company.

This means, for organizations, to manage five (generalized) series of expectations, motivations, attitudes, behaviors and communication styles.

Managing multigenerational work teams, therefore, begins to be a priority in current project management environments.

To direct multigenerational working groups, it is necessary to outline the individual resources, not only in terms of soft skills or hard skills, but also according to the generational context to which they belong.

Let’s see in this article what is this new context where the Project Manager has to operate.

Generational cultures

To talk about generational culture, it is first essential to clarify its meaning.

What is a generation?

A generation is a group of individuals born in the same period of time, who generally share similar behaviors and attitudes.

Here is the graphic that compares the different generations: on average, one generation has a time span of 15 years.

Generational Competence

Since 2010, 7 generations live together on our planet! This is something unique and extraordinary.

And all these generations – thanks to the extension of the average life in the West – coexist and share experiences, work, family and society. Obviously, each generation has its own ambitions, its own expectations, as well as different ways of communicating and relating.

Of these 7 generations, 5 can be found in the company or in specific work teams.

Let’s see which they are and and what personal / social background they bring into the company and into the work group.

When approaching a generational analysis, it is important to have a clear idea: the generations are not particularly defined by age, but mostly by the common experiences and the key events that occur during their formative years.

This means that today a Project Manager, who actually wants to be a project leader must take action in this direction, particularly working on the generations to which the group belongs.

Generational competence as an integral part of the Project Manager

As highlighted, this scenario will inevitably condition the Project Manager.

Whether it is a senior project manager or a professional who wants to become a Project Manager, the scenario is the same. Anyone who chooses this profession can not avoid developing a real “generational competence” in order to manage the new project teams.

By generational competence, we mean “the adaptations that organizations and individuals have to fulfill in order to meet the different needs of the four generations in the workforce and in today’s market”.

Developing and mastering generational skills will help Project Managers better understand behaviors (“what” team members do), as well as important beliefs and basic attitudes (“why” team members are doing it).

As a result, project managers will be able to improve team management, time management and internal communication, all to the benefit of maximum productivity among team members.

Below, we wanted to bring an overview of the most interesting generations for the project teams.

The Generation of Baby Boomers and the approach in the work team

The oldest of the active generations in project management is the Baby Boomer generation.

Born between 1946-1963, it takes its name from the increasing post-war birth periods.

It has witnessed and actively participated in the political and social turmoil by deeply forming and marking its life and critical thinking.

The Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Kennedy and King Assassination, Watergate and Woodstock, just to name a few.

This generation grew up in a more traditional family environment, where it learned to respect the authority inside and outside the home.

The Boomer era was characterized by continued prosperity, opportunity, and the notion of “American Dream”. The Boomerists were looking for visible success and believed they were capable of changing the world.

Unfortunately, this generation is also known for its high divorce rate and new marriages.

Despite a life of hard work and retirement planning, the Baby Boomers are facing another challenge, as the recent economic recessions mean that many pension plans shift and they continue to work longer than expected.

Generation X and the approach in the team work

Those born between 1964 and 1980 are part of the Generation X.

Children of the oldest baby boomers, they grew up in an environment in contrast with that of their parents.

Instead of endless opportunities and booming prosperity, the Generation X has experienced financial, family, and social insecurity during their formative years, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic and the Desert Storm Operation.

This generation witnessed the decline of military, political, and economic strength and, later, the massive redundancies of their parents following the downsizing of the 1980s.

The Generation X has become a generation of “individuals” and has focused its attention on the ability to be self-sufficient, entrepreneurial and adaptable to survive.

On the technological front, this generation has seen the rise of MTV, computers, and video games. It was the first generation to start relying on technology on a daily basis as computers, fax machines and mobile phones entered the home and the workplace.

The Millenials Generation and the approach in the work team

All the people born between 1981 and 2000 belong to the Millennials.

This generation, also named Generation Y, has reached the age of majority in a period of global and economic expansion. Many are the children of ambitious Baby Boomer parents who have raised them with “schedules” to follow in order to face the competition and achieve the wanted results.

Events like 9/11 in New York, the attack on the 11-M train in Madrid, and the terrorist attack in London marked this generation in a global way, as technology allowed to transmit and test information faster and more pervasively like never before.

Although this generation is often considered as the generation of “digital natives”, it is important to remember that the oldest Millennials did not actually grow with ubiquitous technology. But as they grew up, technology became more and more important.

For this reason, many Millennials have established relationships that extend beyond social and cultural lines through virtual communities and chat rooms with people outside their communities, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background.

Millennials are often considered more open and tolerant with respect to any other generation towards differences in race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or economic status.

The Generation Z and the approach in the work team

The last generation is made up of those born between 1995 and 2010.

Although this Generation Z currently accounts for only 1% of the workforce – and is a generation whose identity is still a work in progress – some aspects show their disruptive entry into the world of work.

It is therefore worthwhile to monitor them, as those born in the mid-90s start to enter the world of work already today; in fact, the choice for a part of them not to attend the University reduces the time of entry for this generation.

Gen Z has been defined by some as those born in the mid-1990s, and by others like those born in the mid-2000s, and there is still no consensus on a generational name.

As a result of technology, this generation will feel more “connected” to events on a global scale than any precedent generation.

For this generation, technology is the existence, like in a “mobile mode“.

Grown up in a healthier economic situation than the Millennials, Gen Z is often referred to as “realistic” rather than “optimistic”, and demonstrates a much higher entrepreneurial spirit than that of the parents.

Generational competence becomes part of the knowledge of the Project Manager.

As a project leader, it is essential to know the generational structure of the team members in order to better manage the whole project.

Do you manage multigenerational work teams? Tell us about it!

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