Patrick’s Top Ten Insights For Working Well With Baby Boomers

During the three-year journey of writing this book and studying Boomers, I have learned quite a few things about the older generation that I work with every day. Here is my top ten list of insights that helps me as a Millennial to get along with them much better in the workplace.  If you and I were having a conversation about this topic, these are the highlights I would share with you.

  1. All boomers are not workaholics. Boomers like to enjoy life just as much as Millennials. As a Millennial you have to understand that some of these activities are similar to the things you enjoy and some are not.
  2. Boomers created and managed most of the businesses that we work at, invest in and use every day. Appreciate where the Boomers come from because without them we might not be able to enjoy what we have today.
  3. Boomers draw a solid line between being at work and being at home. At least they used to. I have learned from Boomers that line is becoming more fuzzy and more intertwined as they are working towards the later years of their careers.
  4. Not all boomers have a technology gap. Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat and Instagram are being used by all the generations. Millennials just seem to be uncomfortable seeing their parents and older friends having fun with technology. Remember Trix are not just for kids.
  5. Millennials need to take the time to listen to and understand Boomers. They have so much to contribute to the workplace. We Millennials need to have an open mind when Boomers want things done a certain way. I have learned through this process that good ideas go a long way when presented at the right time.
  6. Boomers created most of the technology that we live with today—starting with things like the personal computers, Game Boys and cell phones. Millennials embrace technology like putting on socks or shoes each day. Embrace the different generations as you would embrace your favorite technology.
  7. Throughout this journey I have seen many Boomers and Millennials alike say, “They just don’t get it!” As Millennials we need to get past the blank stare and engage in meaningful conversation that benefits both parties to move forward.
  8. Boomers aren’t as rigid as we think. They are dedicated to their life and work like we are. We need to keep an open mind when approaching the workplace and how we go about doing business in and out of the workplace.
  9. Millennials get ready to take over the Boomer businesses. Boomers are on their way out and are looking for new innovative people to take over their companies, and businesses. It is a golden opportunity for us if we build strong bridges. You don’t just have to keep your head down and do what your told. Keep your head up, walk tall and contribute to the place where you work.
  10. Millennials need to challenge Boomers gracefully and respectfully in their workplace. Take them outside of the box you put them in and get to know them. Do your part to get past the generalizations that plague the workplace daily.

Hans’ Top Ten Insights On Working Well
With Millennials

Before I share my exchanges with a lot of Millennials asking them about Boomers, let me boil down to ten the essence of what I have learned to help me work better with this Millennial generation. If I were sitting in a coffee shop with you a fellow Boomer, here are the biggies I would share with you.

  1. All Millennials are not equal. Some are very Boomer like and some are not. Painting them all with one brush is a very wrong assumption to make.
  2. We have not handed Millennials a perfect world. Millennials have a chip on their shoulder towards Boomers in three big arenas: Failed marriages, workaholism and the economy that we have handed them.
  3. Millennials like informal fluid places to work. This includes things like flexible work hours, informal workspaces, food, beer, coffee and video games.
  4. Millennials don’t necessarily “go to work.” They have learned to multitask and work amid life. Millennials love to mix work and life together without the big dividing line that Boomers tend to make.   Telecommuting and recreation are mixed in to the Millennial workplace of choice.
  5. Don’t take their challenge of our status quo personally. As you will see from some of the interviews below, “it’s not personal—it’s generational. Just as we Boomers remade the workplace to our liking, we must allow the Millennials to do the same.
  6. Listening to and learning from Millennials is so critical. Think tribal.   It is not about whom you are working for or working with—it is about the tribe you are a part of.
  7. Don’t expect perfection out the gate with new and young workers. Tolerate messiness…embrace messiness. Let people work through their mistakes. Assume that at some point the ball’s going to get dropped and don’t come down with a hammer. Come down with grace and then we’ll figure it out together.   This will also enhance the trust and enhance how we work well as a team.
  8. Technology is an option for Boomers, a way of life for Millennials. This saturates all of live and all of work. Whereas Boomers might still prefer more “face time” with colleagues, the Millennials don’t.
  9. Attention spans are decreasing with each subsequent generation. The Internet and social media and smart phones has changed the world at work in more ways than many Boomers realize.
  10. It always seems to come back to respect and building relationships. Even when we are colleagues in a working relationship, it goes back to caring for the person. Millennials seem to have built in radar to pick this up more than previous generations. If we care about them and their lives, they will follow us to the moon and back.