Know How to Communicate with All Generations

January 31, 2013 02:31 AM

Four generations currently make up the agricultural workforce. Know how to communicate with all of them.

For the first time ever, four generations are involved in agriculture. You have the matures (ages 62 and over), baby boomers (ages 43 – 61), generation X (ages 31 – 42) and generation Y (ages 13 – 30).

Chris Barron, an Iowa farmer and a Top Producer columnist, says you should define all of the people in your operation, in terms of their generational group, and then determine how each individual would like to communicate.

Barron says the matures believe that hard work and dedication lead to rewards.

They are:

  • Punctual and rarely miss work
  • Committed to organization
  • Respect authority
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Good worth ethic


He says matures tend to struggle with diversity and change, and technology.

multiple_generationsThe baby boomers are considered the "me" generation. They tend to be:

  • Competitive and hard-working
  • Want to get the job done at any cost
  • Seen as sacrificing personal life to achieve personal goals
  • Driven and service-oriented
  • Team players


Barron says baby boomers don’t deal with conflict or diversity well. Also, they tend to be self-promoting.

Generation X are known as the "latchkey kids," meaning that their parents both worked, which caused them to be independent.

Their common characteristics are:

  • Digest information rapidly
  • Witnessed the economic challenges of the '80s
  • May not sacrifice personal life for the business or company.


Barron says Generation X tends to be open to receiving feedback and are good at networking.

Generation Y, is more cooperative and civic-minded, Barron says.

This generation tends to:

  • Have mostly no affluence
  • Want to do meaningful work that makes a difference in the world
  • Value information technology
  • Have big goals for the future


Typically Generation Y is good at multitasking and appreciates diversity. They also tend to have strong parental attachments and need more recognition.

Barron believes a rapid transition will occur in the age of those in charge of farm operations. He says this could be a big opportunity for those who want to expand. "The average age of producers is pushing 60. We all know a cycle is coming, we just don’t know when."


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