Generational Conflict

It takes diplomatic skill and patience to get Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials to work together.


All that influenced Traditionalists by instilling an exceptionally strong work ethic built on a foundation of tradition and respect. Yet, because of the challenges they faced early in life, they worry about becoming obsolete — unless they own the company. They have great respect for elders and authority. They are highly dedicated and believe in the concept of personal sacrifice for the greater good. They are generally honest, hard-working and willing to follow the rules. Unlike Baby Boomers and younger generations, they are very willing to delay rewards and gratification.

Other generations view Traditionalists as old-fashioned, stubborn and unwilling to change. Traditionalists are uncomfortable with conflict, but can be overbearing. They strongly believe in gender roles and are hesitant to change or buck the system. They tend to be highly conservative.

Baby Boomer basics

If Baby Boomers are anything, they are generally optimistic. They like to work and believe in personal growth, but they expect instant gratification. They are usually team-oriented and willing to go the extra mile to accomplish their goals. For them, health and wellness is a life priority.

They, too, are uncomfortable with conflict and will often need to process information or situations before deciding on a course of action. Managers won’t be surprised to learn that Baby Boomers are often overly sensitive and highly judgmental. Sometimes they struggle to keep up with technology, but they are willing to do so in order to ensure they aren’t left behind.

Xers mark their spot

As a group, Generation Xers are highly literate when it comes to technology. They embrace diversity and global thinking. However, they are highly self-reliant, most likely from years of experience as latch-key children. They generally prefer a more informal structure that allows them to quickly adapt to changes. They are unintimidated and willing to speak their minds on many issues — whether to a coworker or to the boss herself. But, Generation Xers are usually very impatient and have poor people skills outside their own generation. As the first generation raised in broken homes, they are often cynical. Expect conflict when communicating to a Generation Xer whenever you use a tone that resembles parent to child communication.

Make way for the Millennials

Highly optimistic and very confident, today’s Millennial generation has lots of street smarts, but lack critical thinking skills. Achievement-oriented and very social in work and informal settings; they lack what Traditionalists would likely call “manners.”

They are masters at multitasking, often capable of reading, communicating via instant messaging and watching television at the same time. They see technological changes as progress, something they must embrace quickly. They, too, fit in among diverse groups of people. While multi-tasking may be an asset, they also need supervision and structure to remain on task. They have no knowledge of or respect for corporate hierarchy, thinking they can simply start at top positions — or should ascend to that position within a few years of starting work. “If Millennials feel connected to a company, they are more likely to stay with the job,” the Stendes said. “But, they must have relationships with people in the workplace. Relationships create far more value for Millennials than money.”

By understanding dynamics in play among the multiple generations working in any ground support environment, today’s modern manager can tap each group’s unique strengths to challenge employees to produce their best. That way they’ll form partnerships that will keep the dealership moving forward for generations.

We Recommend