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Different generations have always had different values, different ideas, different ways of getting things done and different ways of communicating.  So, considering each family member’s underlying values or personal and lifestyle characteristics may be the key to successfully managing intergenerational family members and conflicting work ethics in family businesses.

Today’s workplace includes individuals from four different generations.  There are many documented and recognised generational characteristics of which each generation’s work ethics and values can be summarised as follows:

  • Veterans or Traditionalists (born: 1922 – 1945) – Hard working, respect authority, sacrifice, duty before fun, adhere to rules.
  • Baby Boomers (born: 1946 – 1964) – Workaholics, work efficiently, crusade causes, personal fulfilment, desire quality, question authority.
  • Generation X (born: 1965 – 1980) – Eliminate the task, self-reliant, want structure and direction, sceptical.
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born: 1981 – 2000) – What’s next, multitasking, tenacity, entrepreneurial, tolerant, goal orientated.

For family businesses to be successful it is essential that all family members work together, and a vital part of that will be the way in which the founder or business owner communicates, manages and motivates the different generations.

Good business is based on understanding others.  A little understanding of different generational characteristics, and how to use them to your advantage, may help family businesses to work effectively and efficiently, and ultimately to increase productivity and quality.

And, if nothing else it might make for a happier family!

Paul Hake

Family Business Partner

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