Millennials already are the largest segment in the workplace. Within the next two years, 50% of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of Millennials. It will be 75% by 2030. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As I interview for the 2020 #beyourselfatwork Global Study, a huge trend is the question of how to bridge generational differences.  Millennial, generation Z, baby boomers… nowadays every generation has a defining label, and a set of stereotypical attributes attached!  So, to kick off the New Year, here is a helpful guide to each, along with a challenge for you!
A quick guide to generational labels;
The Greatest or GI generation: those born between 1901 and 1927 who came of age during the great depression in the US and fought in WW2.
The Silent Generation, born 1925 to 1942, referred to as such due to the belief that those born in that era were taught to remain silent and not speak openly about their views on current affairs.
Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964, where birth numbers following WW2 increased.  Supposedly known for having confidence, being comfortable with administering authority and understanding the value of independence. They are also often considered a generation that had it financially ‘easier’ than those they precede e.g. home ownership, job security and pensions.
Generation X – 1960’s to 1980’s  the term was popularised by the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland. Recognised as having the ability to balance a strong work ethic with a laid-back attitude, the generation are associated with the conception of music genres such as punk, indie, grunge and techno.
Millennials also known as generation Y, 1981 to 1996, viewed as growing up with strong parental involvement (helicopter parenting) with the ‘everyone wins’ approach for school reports and sports. Tech savvy, civic-minded, ecologically aware.
Generation Z or Gen I (for the internet) this latest group follow on from 1997 onwards.  Now entering the workplace, they are regarded as being the tech-savvy generation.  Viewed as having strong views regarding politics and current affairs due to growing up through the world’s recession.  Also referred to by the derogatory term “snowflakes”, with a reputation for preciousness, and wanting to be unique.

Do you identify with the generation description you were born into?  I am a Generation X, know nothing about music genres and have a massive work ethic, but not so much laid back?

Labels and stereotyping are not who we are.  None of us were born with these definitions written on our heart.  What truly represents each of us is our unique heart-based values – who we really are, the us that never changes, our natural gifts – our potential.

So, my challenge to you is – stop labelling others and yourself as one of these generations!   Step into yourself for 2020, live your values and be you.

Here’s a 10-step plan to throw off your labels and nail your sense of self to be your inspiring self at work;

  1. Accept you, your iAM.  You are not your generational label.  Choose also to not see others as theirs.
  2. Challenge who you think you are by checking back in time.  You are not your learnt behaviours, that planned and organised worker for example, you are the person that you feel on Christmas Day or on the way to the airport for your longed-for vacation.
  3. Reflect on who you think you should be to look successful and competent.  Then ignore this!
  4. Take note of all the things that you have been told you are, the labels, then, in your mind, blow them into smoke.
  5. If you have an iAM take out your iAM Cards, if you don’t, write down a few words that describe you, bearing in mind the points above.  To really be yourself at work you need to be conscious of not slipping into unhelpful habits and conformity.  So, keep your card or your list close by and in sight as much as possible to remind you.
  6. In the split second that you begin your working day, step into you, feel you, sense the you within and enjoy being yourself.
  7. Turn you inside out, as you meet each person, start each meeting or when beginning a task or conversation, amplify yourself in your expression.
  8. Amplify the things that you are good at.  Where things aren’t your strength, do your best or get someone else to help you.  It’s ok to not be great at everything.  Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect, no-one is.
  9. Be excited to show who you are and expose yourself (not literally!!!!)   This is not arrogance.  It’s called living.
  10. Aim for a high score at the end of every meeting, conversation, day, week on the Courageous Counter question, “I am different to others – I like my uniqueness”. Allow others to be different to you, without blaming them!

75% of employees say that they want their co-workers to share more about their true selves, with 80% believing that authenticity improves the workplace (HBR).