Multi-generational Strengths in the Workplace


As may of you know, I come from a long line of business owners. My great-grandfather started my family’s business, which is now run by my sister, who’s a fourth generation CEO. Even though I’ve branched out and have my own firm, I still contribute intellect and ideas to the family business. I know what it feels like to work with people from multiple generations. But just because I’m a “young rascal” doesn’t mean I can’t contribute!

Generational Gaps – and Similarities – With Respect to Strengths

It’s not surprising that people from different generations bring different skills and ideas to the workplace. Gallup identified specific strengths prominent in each generation. Based on that information, I designed a workshop to help employees understand their own strengths in the context of the larger generational picture.

For the workshop, I created four distinct characters, each one representing strengths that are prominent in different generations:

  • Tom the Traditionalist

  • Betsy the Boomer

  • George the Gen Xer

  • Melinda the Millennial

During the workshop, we talked through the typical characteristics and most common 5 strengths of each generation. For example, in Tom the Traditionalist’s generation, the top 5 strengths were:

  1. Responsibility

  2. Learner

  3. Connected

  4. Achieve

  5. Input

Based on those strengths, we know that Tom has probably worked in his current industry for many years. If he attended college, it’s likely that he worked a 40- hour job to pay for it. He chose a career with longevity that he felt he’d be successful doing. His job is a part of who he is; it’s fundamental to his identity.


Workshop Activity: It’s All About Perspective.

To help workshop participants grasp the idea of how we can all look at the same concept but view it differently, I brought four pair of eyeglasses, each with a special-effect lens. When you put one pair one, you see everything in a spiral. Another pair makes people see hearts.


We passed the glasses around and talked about how we were all looking at the same thing but seeing something very different. With that in mind, we discussed how that applies to work topics—projects, approaches, etc.

What if getting co-workers to see our perspective were as easy as that—taking off the “glasses” we view things through, and sharing them with others?

Would that be great?

We can’t do that, of course, which is why communication is critical.

When we understand the strengths each person brings to the table, we can communicate in ways that make sense, enabling us to view situations with more understanding, creating personal growth, and improving dynamics throughout the workforce.

What Does This Tell Us?

As we went through the top strengths of each generation during the workshop, employees noticed the similarities and differences and begin to understand how to tap into the strengths of the other generations.

Interestingly, there are three strengths that appear in the top five of every generation profiled to date: Achiever, Learner, and Responsibility. This tells us that, despite anecdotal and real differences, people are more alike than they realize.

Things change fast – environmental and technological factors, for example, but strengths don’t. In all of the years that separate Tom the Traditionalists’ generation and Melinda the Millennial’s generation, only two of the top five strengths changed, with three remaining constant across time.

Discussing this idea with employees in an organization, and helping them recognize their strengths as individuals, can help them be more productive. But when employees have a deeper understanding of the strengths each person brings to the team, regardless or because of their generational bent, the result is a more cohesive, focused workforce, which can mean great things for your bottom line.


Millennial Guru Can Help

Using CliftonStrengths, Millennial Guru helps employees’ understand not only their own strengths, but how to recognize the strengths of their co-workers, across generations. We then give employees practical tools they can use to capitalize on their strengths, as individuals and as a team, in their day-to-day work environment.

Schedule an informational meeting today to find about more about how Millennial Guru can help your team foster cohesiveness, achieve maximum productivity, and deliver excellent business results.

Paige Cornetet