Five Common Lifestages

Linked with generational differences are the 5 common life stages to consider:

i) youth (0 - 21) - a period of learning and growth

ii) rising adulthood (22 - 35) - focus is on establishing career and family with significant pressure to balance career with family needs

iii) midlife (35 - 50) - most desire leadership opportunities, increasing focus on being a parent and increasing pressure to "have it all"

iv) legacy (50 - 70) - a period of reaffirming values; ending careers with children becoming adults; a strong pressure to maintain wealth

v) elderhood (70+) - focus on "giving back" and passing on values; financial pressure increases as living off their wealth

"...Combining this understanding of life stages with a generational approach provides a significantly better understanding of how to leverage age diversity in an increasingly complex workforce......4 pieces of advice for managers facing this challenge.

Make time to understand individual needs. Begin by understanding the stressors and satisfiers of each staff member to appreciate differing preferences, but identifying specific times when all team members must be available, and exercise discipline to maintain these time frames. Help individuals understand where they fit into the team and its expected outcomes.

Stop using generational labels to describe individual behaviours. Many have argued that 'they' act in certain ways and demand certain aspects from the workplace. While a generation does possess commonalities, individuals possess many more intra-group differences. A 55-year-old boomer who is suddenly faced with raising her grandchildren on her own......has entirely different workplace needs than does her counterpart who is considering upcoming retirement.

Exercise leadership is easy to fall into a standard set of management practices, yet the reality of diversity requires a significantly different course of action. Exercise management sophistication: supervisory style must be situation based, and be thoughtful with regard to matching individuals to assignments..."

David Wagner 2007

. The key to leveraging age diversity is not simply to understand someone in terms of generational stereotypes but to understand the concept of generational evolution. All staff's needs and desire change and evolve as they move through life stages.

(sources: Courier Mail, 1998; David Stauffer, 2003; Ira Matathia et al, 1998; Jason Cartwright, 2004; Brad Hatch, 2006d; David Wagner, 2007; Mike Hanley, 2007c; Neil Shoebridge, 2008)


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