Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters--Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work


Members of each generation share special signposts: collective experiences that influence our expectations, actions, and mind-sets. They also mold our ideas about company loyalty, work ethic, and the definition of a job well done. And now that five different generations are working together simultaneously—from Traditionals to Generation Y and beyond—it’s even more important to understand where everyone’s coming from.

Written by two generational experts—who happen to be father ...

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Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters--Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work

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Members of each generation share special signposts: collective experiences that influence our expectations, actions, and mind-sets. They also mold our ideas about company loyalty, work ethic, and the definition of a job well done. And now that five different generations are working together simultaneously—from Traditionals to Generation Y and beyond—it’s even more important to understand where everyone’s coming from.

Written by two generational experts—who happen to be father and daughter—Generations, Inc. offers the perspectives of people of different eras, eliciting practical insights on wrestling with generational issues in the workplace. The book provides Baby Boomers and Linksters alike with practical techniques for:

Addressing conflicts • Forging alliances with coworkers from other generations • Getting people with disparate values and idiosyncratic styles to work together • Running productive meetings in which all participants find value in each others’ ideas

Generations, Inc. provides realistic strategies for all those managers, executives, and employees seeking to coexist, flourish, and thrive together…at the same time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Read the straightforward and no nonsense book …and put an end to miscommunication and intergenerational conflict at work.”—Blog Business World

“If you buy this book for nothing else -- and there's plenty to love --purchase it for the stories. They crack a window of insight into each generation populating the workplace and the vast difference in thought-processes between generations.” --OfficePro

“…to get [the generations] working well together, you need to take account of their different work habits, attitudes, expectations and hairstyles. Generations, Inc. will be a useful aide in this, with in-depth dissections of each generation…”--Accounting Today

"The book is chock full of...real-life advice, and is an engaging read if you're interested in generational issues. Check it out.”

--Accounting Today

“… brilliant book providing the picture of the historical generations and shaping the ideas about company loyalty, work ethics...” --San Franscio Book Review

Library Journal
The authors are the father-daughter team behind the Johnson Training Group. Here, they tackle the challenges of managing employees ranging in age across up to five generations. Detailed filler chapters defining the generations from "Traditionalists" to "Linksters" (a term they clearly hope will stick) alternate with down-to-earth chapters on managing these employees. The book is unusual in the genre for spending as much time on managing the older generations as it does the younger. The book is only partially successful, mostly because there is simply too much filler. Most will read the management chapters, skim the "generational signposts" chapters, and skip the occasional Johnson family anecdote. Recommended with caution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814415733
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 5/19/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 956,703
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

MEAGAN JOHNSON is a generational expert and professional speaker.

LARRY JOHNSON is a corporate culture expert and professional speaker. Together, as the Johnson Training Group, their clients include American Express, Harley-Davidson, Nordstrom, Dairy Queen, and many others.

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Read an Excerpt


Signposts: Harbingers of Things to Come

‘‘Life is rather like a tin of sardines—we’re all of us

looking for the key.’’

—Alan Bennett, British author, actor, humorist, and playwright

Meagan Remembers

When I was six years old, I went to the grocery store with my

father. He bought an item priced at $1.69, but the cashier

misread it and only charged him 69 cents. (This was 1976.

Scanners had yet to be invented, and cashiers manually entered

prices.) My father alerted her to her mistake. She thanked him

and charged him the extra dollar.

I was dumbfounded! At the time, my weekly allowance was a

dollar. My father had just thrown away what it took me a week

to earn. So I said, ‘‘Dad, that was dumb. All you had to do was

keep your mouth shut and you could have saved a whole dollar.’’

‘‘Yes,’’ he replied, ‘‘but how I feel about myself is worth more

than a dollar.’’

My memory of that event has followed me all my life. It helps me

decide how to handle situations in which I must determine the

right thing to do. It taught me that there is more to life than

material gain. I’ve even used it as a standard for picking the

company I keep. Would I want a friend who would have kept the

dollar? I think not. Thanks, Dad, for the great life lesson.

Larry Responds

You’re welcome, Meagan, but gosh, I don’t even remember this

big event in your life. In retrospect, it seems I was able to convey

a simple life lesson for a pretty small price. If it had been a million

dollars at stake instead of one, I hope I would have acted as


It does remind me that early experiences can have lasting influences

on our lives. I attended YMCA summer camp when I was

ten years old. My family didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t

afford the tuition, but I was an enterprising sort. I secured a

position as a dishwasher that allowed me to go for free.

For some reason, an adult counselor at the camp considered

tuition workers second-class citizens. On an overnight excursion,

after a long day of hiking, this counselor told the kitchen crew to

wait until all the paid campers got their food from the chow line

before eating. I waited and waited. When I saw some of the paid

campers queuing up for seconds, I got in line. This counselor

grabbed my arm and jerked me out of line. In front of all the other

campers, he dressed me down, reminding me that I was just a

‘‘dishwasher,’’ and I had to wait for the ‘‘real’’ campers to eat.

My humiliation was unbearable. I burst into tears, threw my plate

in the counselor’s face, and ran into the woods, hoping I would

get lost and starve to death just to show them how unjustly I’d

been treated.

Luckily, a more sympathetic counselor tracked me down and

escorted me back to camp, where he gave me something to eat.

He told me not to take the counselor who had been mean to me

seriously because he had some personal problems that caused

him to act that way. In retrospect, he should not have been

allowed to work with kids, problems or not, but I did gain something

positive from the experience. In the years since, I’ve traced

any empathy I have for people less fortunate than I to that unpleasant

incident. It gave me a small taste of what it feels like to be discriminated

against. It was a painful, but beneficial, event in my life.

Personal and Group Signposts

We call these kinds of events personal signposts: experiences in our lives

that significantly contribute to who we are. They are personal because

they are unique to each individual. They are signposts because they influence

our future decisions, reactions, attitudes, and behaviors.

Other signposts have just as much impact on us, but these spring

from the experiences of the groups to which we belong and the society in

which we live. These group signposts can have a strong effect on us because

they are magnified by the power of numbers. For example, if you are a

member of a racial minority, you may or may not have endured racism

yourself. However, the fact that your friends, family, and colleagues probably

did will affect how you view the issue of discrimination. And, if you

combine this group signpost with one or more personal signposts associated

with race, the effect can be very powerful.

Larry remembers an experience he had when working for a large

organization. He and his boss, Irene, were conducting interviews to fill a

position that would report directly to Larry. It came down to two finalists:

one Larry liked, and one Irene liked. Since Irene was the boss, Larry

yielded, and they hired her choice.

It turned out to be a mistake and they eventually had to let the

woman go. In discussing it later, Irene graciously claimed responsibility

for the fiasco. She said that she had let a prejudice hidden deep within

her affect her judgment. It turns out that Larry’s preferred choice was

white, and Irene’s was black. Irene herself is also black.

Larry was surprised. Irene had never struck him as being racially motivated.

After all, she had hired him, a white guy, when there had been

several minority candidates from whom to choose. She also had a sterling

reputation as the consummate HR professional. Larry asked her to explain.

Irene replied that she hadn’t preferred her candidate because she was

black, but because the white candidate’s Southern accent grated down at

her ‘‘very core.’’ As a young black woman growing up in the South, she

associated many negative experiences with a Southern drawl. The combina-

tion of a group signpost (being black) and the personal signposts (these

negative experiences) affected Irene’s ability, years later, to be fair and

impartial. To her credit, she promised to make a conscious effort not to

let this prejudice affect her judgment again.

Irene’s story illustrates the good news about signposts. They can have

very positive effects on our lives, as did Meagan’s experience with Larry

at the grocery store, or they can have very negative effects, like Irene’s

reaction to a Southern accent. But they can be changed. Signposts are not

life sentences. Irene proved the point. She learned from her insight and

made a conscious decision to move in a different direction.

Generational Signposts

A generational signpost is an event or cultural phenomenon that is specific

to one generation. Generational signposts shape, influence, and drive our

expectations, actions, and mind-sets about the products we buy, the com-

panies for which we work, and the expectations we have about life in

general. Generational signposts mold our ideas about company loyalty,

work ethics, and the definitions of a job well done.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Authors' Note xi

Chapter 1 Signposts: Harbingers of Things to Come 1

Chapter 2 Baby Boomers: The Elephant in the Python 19

Chapter 3 Managing Boomers 41

Chapter 4 Big Bird, Wayne's World, and Home Alone: Signposts for Generation X 59

Chapter 5 Managing Generation X 79

Chapter 6 The Next Elephant in the Python: Signposts for Generation Y 101

Chapter 7 Managing Generation Y 127

Chapter 8 Old Dogs have Lots to Offer: Signposts for the Traditional Generation 142

Chapter 9 Managing the Traditional Generation 153

Chapter 10 Cell Phones and Hanna Montana: Signposts for the Linkster Generation 165

Chapter 11 Managing the Linkster Generation 176

Chapter 12 Different Strokes for Different Folks: A Model for Managing Across Generational Boundaries 188

Appendix A Resolving Intergenerational Conflict 211

Appendix B A Quick-Reference Guide to the Book 216

Notes 235

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2012

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    Generations Inc.

    For the first time in US history, five generations populate the workplace. They range from the eldest “Traditionals” born before 1945 to the youngest “Linksters” born after 1995. Sandwiched in between are “Baby Boomers, Generation X” and “Generation Y.” Intergenerational specialists Meagan Johnson (Gen X) and her father Larry Johnson (Boomer) offer point and counterpoint examples from their personal and professional backgrounds as part of their innovative model for managing across the ages. While the research is specific to the United States, getAbstract believes international managers can also absorb some useful ideas from this fascinating book and recommends it to managers and workers who want to bridge the generation gap.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

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    Bridget's Review

    People from different generations look at the world differently. Our personal experience influence our thoughts on just about any subject. Generations, Inc. takes a peek into the differences between a father and a daughter based on their generation. Some generations produced hard-working families while others were lazy. Some want to go above and beyond expectations while others fade into the background.

    I always knew that my generation is a key factor in how I think and feel. It was really interested to find out how much your generation influences how you act with bosses and coworkers. I love to learn about why I am the way I am and how that effects me. I would give this book three stars.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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