If you think the workforce is unstable and turnover is high now, JUST WAIT! 

Hello employers and managers in the auto, truck, tire and collision industries. Joe Henry here, owner of ACT Staffing.

If you are already pulling your hair out because employees:
  • Are non-punctual
  • Are apathetic about their work
  • Are more concerned about leaving work on time than finishing their work or taking care of customers
  • Are calling in sick a lot
  • Are not motivated by bonuses or money
  • Are walking around texting or using their cell phones too much
  • Are always tuned into that radio station WIIFM, What's In It For Me?
  • Are always pushing YOUR boundaries
  • Are always more concerned about "live for today because tomorrow may not come"
  • Are in a low tone scale about work and/or life
Sorry, it's just going to get worse as the Baby Boomers retire and Gen X & Y take over more of the work force!

BUT there IS something YOU can do about it. It's called Management By Generations, or MBG in your management techniques. MBG is one of the most important breakthroughs and it will give you the competitive edge you need.

Simply put, the employers/managers who can manage and get the most out of their employees will survive. The employer/manager who don't - won't. When a generation tries to manage another generation, it's like mixing water and oil. It just does not work.

So here is what we are going to cover:

    A - Behavior, work habits, and employee expectations are not always monolithic by generations
    B - What are the ages of the generations?
    C - The composure, the effect on their personalities & work, and what does NOT motivate each generation
A - Behavior, work habits, and employee expectations are not always monolithic by generations.

So let's start out by saying we are generalizing here for purpose of this discussion. Not everything or everyone fits in these categories or behavior patterns all the time. But suffice to say these are general assumptions.

As an example, we all have seen a young employee take on responsibility and be much more mature than some of the senior co-workers. We also have seen employees at most any age have a personal crisis which severely impacts their work.

But for this discussion we will talk about each generation in general. Also we are NOT trying to convey that one generation is better than the others, but rather each has its own strength.

When each strength is capitalized on properly, your production will go up ....and you won't pull so much of your hair out.

B - What are the ages of the generations?

For the purpose of this discussion, we will use the approximate dates and ages below of our employees:
  • Boomers - Born late 1940s to early 1960s. They are in their 40s and 50s
  • Gen X - Born early 1960s to late 1970s. They are in their 30s and late 20s
  • Gen Y - Born early 1980s to late 1990s. They are in their mid 20s and younger
C - The composure, the effect on their personalities as well as their work, and what does NOT motivate each generation

The composure of Boomers - Routine was BIG in their life
  • Most Boomers had stay-at-home moms or grandmothers
  • There were dress codes in school
  • Civil Defense drills were regular in case of a nuclear attack
  • Boomers had corporal punishment in schools and boys/men could be drafted into the armed forces
  • Dinner was served at 6
  • Most of Boomer's parents spent their entire careers at the same company
  • TV shows were mostly about good over evil, or the main character had an important lesson learned in that episode
The effect on their personalities as well as their work of Boomers - Boomers are "Process-oriented"
  • Answer and don't question authority, bosses or owners are more respected than the other 2 generations
  • Avoid actions that make waves, they are more about just getting the job done
  • Most are proud of their individual work
  • Like to know what makes something tick instead of just taking new technology for granted
  • Loyalty
  • Long term goals or plans
  • Completing a job and doing it well, usually by "doing what ever it takes or length to get the job done"
What does NOT motivate Boomers
  • Keep them in the dark about steps towards a goal
  • Don't let them know the big picture and their part to make it happen
  • Don't cover with them what results you are looking for
  • Pass them up on recognition on their individual small goals
  • Keep them from some individual work of their own instead of always being part of a group
  • A non-stable or non-long term environment makes them apathetic, and sooner
  • Manage them loosely or non-professional
The composure of Gen X - Change was BIG;
  • Two parents were working and different hours meant meals and activities were on a flex schedule
  • Lot's of time in daycare, as well as different daycares so they spent a lot more time with other children
  • Divorce rate and remarriage went up so it is not uncommon for an Xer to have four parents (each original parent divorced and remarried)
  • There was less supervision by parents so less rules
  • TV shows started to shift to characters "not living by the rules" and irreverent: Dynasty, Dallas, Miami Vice, Roseanne, MTV
  • Team Work was introduced early in schools
  • School dress codes were lax or non-existent and corporal punishment was eliminated
  • Computers were introduced before they hit the workforce
The effect on their personalities as well as work of Gen X - Flexibility is key
  • Comfortable and prefer collaborative and team work
  • Love new technology to get the work done
  • Follow their own instincts on the job rather than a specific process
  • Strive for more balance in their work and home lives
  • More free time is more important than a title or promotion to manager
  • They are very reliant on themselves when given the chance
  • They eschew rules and authority when they think it serves them
What does NOT motivate Gen Xers
  • Out of date equipment, processes, or out of date work environment
  • Too much supervision
  • Pushing them to work more hours/weekends/holidays
  • Using a title, more responsibility, or even a bonus as an incentive
  • Take them away from the team
  • Take away their rights or ability to grow their skills
  • Don't honor their request for time off
  • Don't ask them for input
The composure or Gen Y - Always looking for something different
  • The Internet, cell phones, MP-3 players, text messaging, all were created during Gen Y's time
  • Individualism becomes more excepted
  • More communication is available and more deceit is exposed
  • Advance learning is common place
  • Multi sports were played during school ages
  • Hundreds of cable channels and millions of internet sites
The effect on their personalities as well as their work of Gen Y - Edgy, 'tude-laced, but actually more stable
  • Always looking for the next upgrade or release in their work environment
  • Get bored very easy
  • Don't want to know how something works, just let me experiment with it and let me find out how it can get me the results I want
  • Instant gratification
  • Tattoos, piercing, and racial tolerance are more excepted in their personal life and work
  • They are heavily influenced by their friends and peers. Bosses have to earn their respect.
  • They will judge their company and superiors on what they hear from friends, or what they find on the internet
  • They are heavy into networking
  • Even though they are more "in your face" type, they are actually more stable. Violent crime, casual sex, smoking, drinking and drug use are all down compared to the other generations
What does NOT motivate Gen Yers
  • Hype and non-truths of any sort
  • Not shown a true connection of their work and their future
  • To be treated as a number instead of an individual
  • To treat them as a slacker when it comes to learning new things
  • Keep them out of the loop of the latest release or technology upgrade
  • No variety to their work
  • Told, "just do it and don't ask why"

In conclusion you can see that GENERALLY each generation's environment as a child and school years heavily influenced our work ethics. Again, this does not make one generation better than the others, it's just a good guide how to manage your people for better work production and harmony.

So the next time you can't understand why an employee does not see it your way, think about their generation.

*Son of a former Mercedes and Studebaker dealer as well as an independent shop owner and fixed ops dealership manager, Joe Henry has had many successful years in the automotive, truck, tire and collision industries before founding ACT Auto/Truck/Tire Staffing in 1998. He can be reached at 1-800-489-0536 or visit

Links to other great articles: Why You Should be ALWAYS be Recruting | The Proper Use of $ign-On Bonus | When, why, & how to use a "Blind Ad"

Joe Henry - Owner
ACT Auto/Truck/Tire/Collision Staffing