April 2018

PMI South Africa Chapter

April 2018

April 2018

Are you managing for intergenerational diversity?

Dear PMI South Africa Members,

Project teams are comprised of a diversity of generations, each with its special characteristics.  These can relate to work ethic, cooperation and collaboration, knowledge acquisition, career progression, work life balance and notions of success.  The biggest impact on the nature of work is expected from the millennial generation, those born between 1982 and 2004, who currently comprises 35% of the global workforce and has been projected to constitute 50% of the South Africa workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2025.  Baby boomers are retiring.  Millennials are entering the workforce with their own special brand, challenging the standard management and leadership practices in project management based on baby boomers. 

Are you managing to get the best from your dynamic intergenerational project team?

A Price Waterhouse Cooper CEO report, reported in Huffington South Africa[i], found that only 18% of millennials surveyed expected to stay for the long-term with their current employees.  Over one-third of those surveyed felt that senior management do not relate to younger workers and find millennials’ personal drive intimidating.  What does this mean for projects and team work and project management leadership practices?

Project managers need to develop approaches to work with intergenerational teams that attract and motivate the best from diverse team members.  Intergenerational differences need to be captured as opportunities to learn, develop, improve relationships and maximize productivity, creativity and innovation. 



Baby Boomers

Generation X


Birth years





Common Traits

ü  Goal-oriented

ü  Hard-working

ü  Highly competitive

ü  Independent

ü  Non-conformist

ü  Tech-savvy

ü  Independent

ü  Individualistic

ü  Flexible

ü  Tech-savvy

ü  Self-expressive

ü  Prone to switch jobs

ü  Multi-taskers

ü  Connected

A recent article in PM World Journal, entitled “Managing Millennials: Project Management for an Evolving Workforce”[ii], identifies six characteristics of millennials that are often misunderstood.  These are entitlement, easily side-tracked, seeking recognition, disloyalty and privileged.  However, the author Evan Piekara indicates that these characteristics, when using appropriate leadership and management strategies, can be used to meet the needs of millennials, develop their talent, and retain them as team members.  This will help build productive project teams.

Project work is about building personal relationships, built on trust, that enable successful cooperation and create job satisfaction.  It also includes understanding how different generations approach this.  Listen to leadership expert Simon Sinek on “Millennials in the Workplace” to understand issues related to managing millennials.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU.  Project managers need to build leadership skills that enable them to build successful teams where members, all generations, are enabled to offer their best attributes to the project. 

We invite you to share with us the management and leadership approaches you use to get the best from intergenerational teams.  Tell us your stories—challenges and successes and differences of opinion.  Text us on twitter and facebook and start a conversation.

All the best,

Dr. Lynn A. Keeys, PMP



[i] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2018/02/20/millennials-in-the-workplace-not-entitled-just-different_a_23366149/

[ii] (http://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/pmwj68-Mar2018-Piekara-managing-millennials-advisory-article.pdf)