A deep-dive series on career coaching mentality: #2 Generational behavior patterns

career drivers

What is this report about?

Have you ever thought about why you make the decisions you do about your career? Why you make a decision one way, but perhaps your parents or your children make entirely different ones or have their opinions on your journey which seem totally at odds to what motivates you?  Well worry no more, as this report is going to look at generational behaviors. It is going to help you to understand in more detail why you make the decisions you do about your life, your career or your business and why others have different view points (typically).

There is a huge amount of data to pick through when it comes to the question of why you make a decision. You have to take into consideration your micro and macro environment (the (micro) environment that you are in every day – at work, your family, your friends, and then the (macro) environment in which, you form a part – so the wider world of business, demographics, sociological issues etc. This is really just the beginning, but it is these factors that define who we are and what we do. It is these factors that we are going to explore in a bit more detail throughout the report.

It is with all of these things in mind, that we launch the second of our career-coaching mentality series, Series two – generational behavior. This deep-dive will look at what context different generations make decisions about their career, what our current generation is doing and what the new generation will do.


Generational differences

So what is generational behavior? I found this definition online and I think it’s a really good summary ‘A generation can be considered a segment of the population who have shared experiences and have a sense of history that influences their thinking and behavior today.’

There are four main generations that we talk about, and of which, we are going to explore in a bit more detail below. Please note that actually these generation dates are not set and they do fluctuate depending on what you read! There are only 60 years between them but the differences of attitudes, responses to life, motivations and drawbacks are incredible.

Baby boomers (1946-1969):

Their parents knew all about austerity and therefore their desires for their children revolve around security and prosperity. They were encouraged to go to uni (without gap years). Their priorities for a career were a well defined career path, to get a mortgage and to secure a place on the property ladder. They have a deep seated need to save and invest for the future.

  • Long term career progression
  • Stability, security and status
  • Good pension and investments, leading to early retirement
  • Financial independence from parents

Generation X (1970-1990):

They are described as the ‘Me’ generation. Their parents wanted them to have everything they didn’t so spent money on holidays and luxuries. Parents provided financial support way past their teens – with students having gap years, cars, housing etc. Well above what their parents would have enjoyed. They are about money, titles and recognition.

  • Flexibility around working arrangements
  • No anxieties around long-term security

Generation Y/Millennials (1980-1990):

They are described as the most misunderstood generation. They have been brought up in a digital world, with terrorist attacks, school shootings, AIDS. They are the children of divorced parents. They want to be the generation to turn around all the wrong they see in the world today. They are the first generation of children with a schedule.

  • Ambitious but not highly focused
  • Diversity focused – multiculturalism
  • Techno Savvy – Digital generation
  • Want to make a contribution to the world

Generation Z/iGen (1996-2010):

As these are the most recent generation many of them have not developed adult characteristics yet. However, we do have a broad sense of who they are. They are very self-aware, self-reliant, innovative and very pragmatic. Most of this generation do not remember a time before social media – therefore most of their life will be spent online; interacting with their peers, networking and purchasing anything! This will have profound affects on their relationships and how they learn.

  • Well educated – probably the most well educated generation ever
  • Want to make a difference to the world
  • Diverse – this will need to be considered by employers and brands


Why should you care about these differences?

Good point! Well…

  1. Unless you live in a box you’re going to encounter people

Being more self-aware and in turn more aware of other people is going to make you a much better, nicer and well rounded person! In life you are going to encounter people, all sorts of people and learning about how they differ from you is so important for succeeding in life and in business.

  1. It helps you understand more about yourself and what makes you tick

If you’re looking at this from a purely selfish point of view, understanding this behavior will help you know more about yourself, what motivates you and ultimately a more satisfied individual. You can use this knowledge to help you find the right career, the right audience for your product/service and help you consider a career move that is going to satisfy you.

  1. It will help you to find the job you really want

Understanding generational behaviors is going to help you find the job that you want. It is going to help you understand the people you want around you, the job that is going to make you feel passionate and motivated. It’s going to help you see yourself and your career search through different eyes.

  1. It will help you find your audience

Whether you are setting up your own business, performing a meeting, managing a team, trying to decide what product/service to sell you need to work out who your audience is. Through learning about this behavior you can tailor your message, your learning and your product/service to an audience’s direct needs/desires.


How does this fit into me getting a new job?

Well depending on your age, it may impact on what you are looking for in a job (your career drivers). For example, the group we researched as part of the Gateway deep-dive series said that their top career ambitions were;

  • I want a job I love
  • Work/life balance
  • Money
  • I want to make a difference
  • Intellectually stimulated

The main age group of people who responded to this group were in the millennial camp so this ties up very well with what the generational differences stated above. If you are not in this generational group then your drivers may be very different.

One of the most interesting reports around at the moment is from Deloitte who this year released a report called “2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Winning over the next generation”. They state in the report that millennials now corner ‘the largest share of the US labor market’ and that they are ‘no longer leaders of tomorrow, but increasingly leaders of today… we see that Millennials are taking their values with them into the boardroom’. So what does this mean?

Well it means that the things that millennials are passionate about are shaping the future of the business world. And that is going to look very different to the views of the senior management in that position who are probably Generation X.


What is the reality of business for the new generations?

Well increasingly it’s going to be a source of discomfort and frustration for Millennials and iGens’ coming into business with a much more ethical and multicultural mind-set who want to change the business world from the core out.

In the Deloitte report, they interestingly talk about the career drivers they have found that millennials have said are going to make the business successful.

  • Put employees first
  • Solid foundation of trust and integrity
  • Customer care
  • High-quality and reliable products
  • Attention to the environment
  • Social responsibility

There is a fantastic graphic in the report that shows the struggle of the different mind-sets in the office now for millennials. With iGens coming into the forefront of the business world (or very nearly) what challenges are they going to face?


How does this work with the different generations?

If you’re a Gen X then it may be frustrating with millennials and iGens coming into. They are going to shake up the office and may make you feel left behind if you don’t keep up. This is going to be a pivotal moment for you in terms of training and learning and making sure you don’t get left behind. It does not mean you need to be one of the kids, you’re experience and wealth of knowledge is going to be essential – just be aware of what drivers the younger generations have. You’ll need this not just from a managerial point of view but a colleague and attraction and retention point of view.

If you’re a Gen Y then it’s your chance (as you start to take on more responsibility, start new companies, get excited about your life ahead of you) to make a difference and to set the rules, or at least influence them. It is going to be a battle with the Gen X’s in the office who may dismiss where you are coming from when you say employees are the cornerstone of the business – but you need to educate them that employee well being does not mean a loss of profit. In fact – a happy staff, will be a motivated staff who in turn will do more for your business.

If you’re a Gen Z/iGen then you may be considering an apprenticeship, perhaps you’ve already started an online business, do you have an online profile you’re building. The job hunt and work is going to be an interesting and challenging time for you. It is with any new generation moving up into the workplace. But wow – how exciting.

What can I do if I need some help?

Well firstly – come and talk to us. We are here to help. We understand that change can often be a daunting prospect. We can do your own career driver and motivations profile for you and see exactly what it is that’s getting you out of bed every day and we can help you get there.

Check out our website for more details on all of the services that we offer.

Contact us today on info@gatewaycareers.co.uk or call 0845 45 900 35

We can’t wait to start a new journey with you!



This series has been written by Jenni Hughes, Career Coach and Job Search Specialist with Gateway Career Management and founder of Market Me coaching. You can contact her directly on jenni@gatewaycareers.co.uk or call 07890 689 957.

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