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HEALTH CARE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~January 2010~

Generational Implications for Supervision

GENERATIONAL IMPLICATIONS FOR SUPERVISION

By now we know that each generation of Americans has its own personality shaped by a set of common experiences sometimes called “defining moments.”  While the strength of it may wax and wane, individuals carry this generational personality throughout their life.  The generational collision occurs when you have misunderstandings between managers born predominantly before 1960 and young workers.  In some arenas, this can be a serious threat to business survival.  This sort of generational tension is diversity management at its most challenging.

So as you manage four varied age cohorts, how do you provide adequate supervision for everyone that complements the generational personality?  If you take a look at some basic differences that have implications in the workplace, it provides a clearer picture.

 
Boomer
Gen-X
Millenial
Confident
X
X
X
Techno-Savvy
X
X
Team Oriented
X
X
Street Smart
X
Global
X
X
Diversity
X
X
Optimism
X
X
Entrepreneurial
X
X
X

The current trends indicate:

  1. Lack of time is the number one barrier to volunteering. 
  2. There is an increased demand for volunteer services.
  3. There are more nonprofits to choose from when selecting volunteer opportunities. 
  4. After all those years of “long-term” volunteers as a standard part of our organization, the perception lingers that if you sign on as a volunteer, you’ve signed on for life. 
  5. Today’s volunteers are looking for meaningful, challenging, interesting work; often telling us what they want to do rather than blending into what might be needed by the organization, introducing the concept of “shopping around” for their volunteer experience.
  6. Volunteers want to be a part of an organization; but oftentimes the bureaucratic structure makes it seem too much like “a real job” and that’s what they retired from, want to get away from, or otherwise no longer want to be a part of.
  7. Consider that the majority of volunteers are working people.
  8. People come from a much broader cross-section of society, with professionals, young people and clients.  For many, English is the second language.
  9. People are looking for flexibility, professionalism, opportunities to develop new skills and opportunities to be part of the decision making process.
  10. There is such changing technology in the face of internet availability; some can volunteer without leaving the computer.
  11. With the “time poverty” concept, families want to spend quality time together when they are together with volunteering seen as a way to achieve that.
  12. Let’s not forget the changing demographics.  Earlier “retirees” vacation elsewhere in the winter, but still wish to play a meaningful role in your organization when they are there.

As you look at the traits found within each generation, it is easy to see some patterns.

Trait

Veterans

Baby Boomers

Gen X-ers

Millenials

Job strength

Stable

Service oriented

Adaptable

Multi-tasker

Outlook

Practical

Optimistic

Skeptical

Hopeful

Work Ethic

Dedicated

Driven

Balanced

Determined

Leadership style

By Hierarchy

By Consensus

By Competence

By Pulling Together

Authority

Respectful

Love/Hate

Unimpressed

Polite

Relationships

Personal sacrifice

Personal gratification

Reluctant to commit

Inclusive

Turnoffs

Vulgarity

Political incorrect

Cliche/Hype

Promiscuity

Diversity

Ethnically

Integration

Fully integrated

No majority

Career Goals

Build a legacy

Build a stellar career

Build a portable career

Build parallel careers

Feedback

No news is good news

Annual with documentation

Interrupts -- asks how am I doing

Wants pushbutton feedback

Work/Life Balance

Needs help shifting

Balance everyone & themselves

Wants balance now

Needs flexibility to balance

With this in mind, the challenge becomes relating to each generation in a unique and positive manner.  Understanding each generation and honoring the person for the experiences they have had in life allows each one of us to approach that person in a meaningful way.


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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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