By Conrado Morlan
“Those who criticize our generation forget who raised it.” ―Unknown
I had the opportunity to attend PMI® Leadership Institute Meeting 2016—North America in San Diego, California, USA, and met PMI chapter board members from several countries.
An ongoing conversation during that meeting centered on how to renew and refresh chapter membership and appeal to younger generations.
One of the foundations that will help PMI chapters better interact with multi-generational communities is to develop and master “generational competence,” which according to Ceridian “describe the adaptations or competencies organizations must develop today to meet the very diverse needs of four generations in the workforce and the marketplace.”
While discussing the topic with my fellow chapter board members, I found there is a common belief that generations are defined by age when in reality generations are defined by common experiences and key events.
Also much of the research around generations and generational differences has grown out of the United States and therefore is U.S.-focused.
Here are some alternatives to the typical generational buckets:
Even individuals born in the same approximate marker years are defined differently by the events they have experienced. For example while the U.S. Baby Boomer generation is associated with the notion of the "American Dream,” the Unlucky Generation in China lived through three years of famine and cultural revolution.
At the same time, many of these generations are tied to stereotypes. For example, “Millennials are entitled narcissists,” “Gen Y looks for instant gratification,” “They are not capable of interacting offline,” are some of the comments I’ve heard. Stereotyping, however, fuels conflict within a multigenerational community.
What Generation Y Thinks
During the Leadership Institute Meeting, I looked for opportunities to speak with Generation Y attendees. Across the board, they felt PMI board members from older generations need to develop generational competence to bridge the gap of understanding. This competence will help them learn how to communicate, connect and engage with potential PMI members of different generations.
Membership campaigns will need to align with Generation Y values—happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery, according to Patrick Spenner, a strategic initiatives leader at CEB.
PMI chapters will need to promote the profession as one that:
Perhaps the most important takeaway in my discussions with Generation Y members was that they reject generational labels. Call them young professionals
As a project manager volunteering for a PMI chapter, what is the most challenging situation you have faced within a multigenerational community?