22:3 (2007:09) 22nd Conference (2007): Tactics Session: We All are Winners: Training Silents to Millennials to Work as a Team

September 4, 2007 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment

22nd CONFERENCE
TACTICS SESSION 

We All are Winners: Training Silents to Millennials to Work as a Team
JoAnne Deeken, Univeristy of Tennessee; Paula L. Webb, Delta State University
Reported by Michael J. Hanson

JoAnne Deeken and Paula Webb discussed the fact that library employees are various ages and how this can affect training sessions, particularly training related to the rapid advances in information technologies. They used the generational paradigm created by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book, Generations: the History of America’s Future, 1584 – 2069, as the basis for breaking people into groups. The four categories they discussed were the Silents, those born between 1925 and 1942; the Baby Boomers, who were born between 1943 and 1960; Generation X, whose birth date falls between 1961 and 1980; and finally the Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 2000.

Deeken and Webb also explained some of the characteristics of individuals in each group and briefly discussed what training techniques the individuals preferred.  The long experience of the Silents provides them with a wealth of knowledge. They have a great respect for authority and expect trainers to acknowledge their skills. They take their own notes and respond well to learning from individual study manuals. If the trainer makes connections between what they know and what is going on, it helps them assimilate what needs to be learned. Once they understand a new technology, it becomes part of their knowledge base. 

Baby Boomers have less respect for authority than the Silents, but do respect authority that they themselves have established.  Although they say they like teamwork, Baby Boomers are concerned about their place in the group and want to be the star. They want to get rewarded so they demonstrate how they are responding to what is being learned.  Sometimes they are prone to policing the other members in the class who might be doing things which do not meet with their approval.

There are fewer Generation Xers than members of other generations. They share a common work ethic, but they express it differently than Baby Boomers, i.e., they work their forty hour week, but they leave work at work. They embrace and expect technological advancements.  Generation Xers have an understanding of Boomers and Millennials, and sometimes can interpret one for the other. They need feedback to know that they are doing well. 

Some Millennials are still in early education and others are just entering into the workforce. Few are in supervisory positions and they are primarily being trained. Their short attention span causes them to require a trainer to move around the room and do more than lecture.  Millennials are multi-tasking all the time.  If you want them to focus on you, you must interact with them.  Often they are unwilling to stay for any length of time in a particular job. They are gathering experience which they will bring with them to other employers.  Millennials desire challenges and excitement as well as constant stimuli. Their life experience with structured schools, sporting leagues, music groups, etc., has caused them to require lots of structure and they depend on mentors.

Deeken and Webb propose that acknowledging the differences between generations and modifying training methods for each group can improve the training experience for all involved.

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