IPMA International Project Management Association
9 June 2018 / 7:58

Some learned “a” as “Apple” and some “Apple”

By: Gholamreza (Kami) Safakish, IPMA VP of Education & Training and Young Crew

Age diversity is becoming a crucial issue as the new technology addicted generation, emerging the workplace. Losing lack of communication together with variety of values, norms, beliefs, style of decision making and their approach to administrative processes and procedures is getting more and more diverse than before.

Generally we live in a world in which five different generations live in proximity.

a) Silent generation b) Baby Boomers c) Gen Xer d) Gen Yer e) Gen Z.

Silent generation (born 1930-1950) has almost left the workplace or can still be found in very small private enterprises. They are still looking after what he/she has established and founded as a company. Their attitude to work is: “Something everybody has to do, even not favorable, without any question!

Baby boomers (1950-1965) are mostly positioned in top management in companies and are still dealing with strategic decisions and organizational leadership; especially in mega project sectors and even more in eastern cultures. Their attitude to work is: “They live to Work”.

Gen X (1965-1980), has the least population among the others. They are usually mid managers and gradually getting their way up to more strategic layers as boomers retire. As their signpost, they had experienced personal computers in their teenage time and cannot live without computer! Their attitude to work is: “They work to live”. As a result of this point of view the friction with previous generation begins in their workplace and especially under project stress time. In their childhood, they learned “a” for an apple to eat.

Gen Y (1980-1995), are now our specialists and the majority of fresh and energetic workforce. They had never had an experience on how one can pay their bills without going online. Their first reaction to every statement is: “WHY?” They normally interpret organizational procedures differently, and usually senior’s respect is something obscure to them. They explore the world when they get online and eagerly love to broadcast their experiences and feelings online (e.g.: Facebook, Instagram, Selfies…). Their attitude to work is: “I will work only if I am passionate about it”.

Gen Z (1995- ), are now in high school or university. Their approach to social media has made a drastic change to our communication and for sure their style of work will stand far away from their managers especially Gen Xers and Boomers. Their signposts in their life was the emerged of character “i” and experiencing the world on the way they wish or love to be. “i-radio”: to listen to genres that I love, “i-watch”: to see my wrist watch the way I love, “i-TV”: to be entertained with programs that I love. So maybe their teamwork will be compiled in a totally different way. They learned “a” for apple of Steve Jobs.

As Bob the builder says: They always believe “Yes we can”.

Some of their work habits are summarized in the following table:

Item Silent Gen Baby Boomers Gen Xers Gen Yers
Work ethics and beliefs: Hard work

Duty before fun


Loyal to the employer

Prefers to work alone

Loyal to skills

What’s next?



Work is: An obligation An exciting adventure A difficult challenge

A contract

A means to an end
Communication means: Formal

Writing letters

In person Direct



Voice mail

Messages that Motivate: Your experience is respected You are valued

You are needed

Do it your way

Forget the roles

You will work with other bright, creative people

(just as a sample):

Stubbornly independent Most educated than former Gen Flex work due to importance of having time with their families Having lots of self esteem
Interactive style: Individual Team player

Loves to have meetings

Entrepreneur Participative
Feedback & Reward: No news is good news Don’t appreciate it Sorry to interrupt, but how I am doing? Whenever I want it, at the push of button

Understanding above norms, habits, style of work, communication style… enables the project manager of how to build up his team and allocate positions if there is a chance to select hi/her team among people. Will lower the stress if you find that this reflection of your team mate has nothing to do with you or personal, but it arises from his/her age and upbringing.

However having this contrast will be constructive and as variety of behaviors and mind set will be employed to solve the issues, forecast project risk (especially on stakeholder and human side of the project) and boosts the level of understanding from the environment around the project.

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