Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What Millennials Can Learn from Baby Boomers in the Workplace

Despite popular belief, baby boomers and millennials can work together and they can teach each other a thing or two in the process.

When I returned to the workforce after a seven year hiatus I must admit I went into culture shock over the the fact that there were so many young faces with new attitudes, a different outlook on work ethic and a totally different dress code.  

Being the teacher and coach that I am, I have seized every opportunity to offer wisdom and guidance to those millennials who have been open to receive it---while keeping in mind that how you deliver a message is just as important, if not more important, as what you actually say.  

So what can millennials learn from boomers on the job?

1)  How to Navigate Workplace Politics: I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely despise the politics that goes on at the office.  I have never had the kiss ass mentality but I do know you are looked at in a more favorable light if you find more things to agree with your manager on than to constantly be the antagonist.  I believe many millennials would like to see hierarchy dismantled but the reality is it still exists and always will to some extent.

There is a protocol to follow.  You can't just go into the CEO's office for a chit chat or pull up a chair to discuss an idea you know will help the Company's bottom line.  There is a chain of command for that.  The problem arises if your manager doesn't like you or feels threatened by you.  That will hold you back. However, learning how to win over your manager will open a few more doors.  We can show you how to do that.

2)  Developing Your Soft Skills:  What we, as boomers, may lack in technology skills, we certainly make up for in people/soft skills.  We do know how to communicate effectively face-to-face and that skill has led to promotions or better paying jobs for us.  We have also learned how to develop transferable long-term career goals, such as problem-solving, communication, negotiation and leadership.

We can certainly create value in a young co-worker’s career life by helping them develop in those areas.  Of course, they will be more receptive to your assistance by the way you approach them.  Dictating or mandating anything will get you ignored.

3)  You are not entitled to anything: Unless your daddy is the CEO of the Company, you are not just going to get hired and become a manager or executive.  Once again, there is a hierarchy and promotions process.  Some baby boomers can tell you they waited for years to move up the ladder and, for some, it was no easy climb.

According to the article, 8 Career Practices Millennials Can Learn from Baby Boomers:  "The biggest complaint about millennial careerists? A sense of entitlement. No matter your age, let us be clear — no one owes you anything. You do not deserve accolades and merit badges for following the rules. Life is not Scout Camp. Adjust accordingly."

In order for baby boomers to demonstrate leadership we must be determined to make millennials better as a result of our presence and make sure our impact lasts in our absence.

You can read more in my new book:  The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide:  Making it Work at Work available on Amazon.

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