March 31, 2014 Leave a comment
Whenever I start a training session saying that Baby Boomers And Millennials Are Alike I get a lot of raised eyebrows and smirks. But convincing my audience is pretty easy actually.
No doubt there are often frustrations at work between the three primary generations. And as the group of people sandwiched between Boomers and Millennials, Generation X individuals experience a bit of all of the frustrations.
But between Boomers and Millennials what ends up happening is that:
- Many Boomers feel:
o Millennials lack motivation
o Millennials are not loyal
o Millennials don’t listen… and feel the world should revolve around them
- Many Millennials feel:
o Boomers are unclear with expectations
o Boomers spend too much time at work / working
o Boomers are impatient… and feel the world should revolve around them
And let’s be honest, many of these impressions are true. But there is also so much that is amazing with all three generations. So, instead of being frustrated by what is different… what if Boomers, Millennials… and Generation Xers were to recognize each others similarities and celebrate each others strengths and differences? What if we found a way to collaborate and synergize?
The healthy – cooperative – supportive mix of Boomers, Gen X and Millennials can propel any relationship and company into the stratosphere. Therefore, I think incorporating Mindfulness might be the answer.
What Is Mindfulness?
At a very high-level, Mindfulness is about becoming aware of your needs and your feelings while also caring about the needs and feelings of others. Mindfulness is about learning to provide space for others to add their uniqueness to the conversation – and to recognize that while you and I might have very different needs, it is possible to work together to satisfy each others needs… instead of fighting and neither of us achieving our goals.
As a corporate trainer teaching Mindful Listening, I see how Mindfulness is a corporate shift in values based on respect, balance and sustainability.
Synergize not Compromise / Engage not Frustrate
Baby Boomers and Millennials Are Alike
When Boomers were 20 something they were going to change the world. Boomers were excited about new ideas, were not going to slow down and they lived based on their own values – not those of their parents. Boomers believed they could do anything. Young Boomers wanted to live life to the fullest – respect each other – embrace differences / diversity and love the planet. They were smart, industrial, creative and they were the most educated population that had ever existed. This sounds like a Millennial to me.
Then… Boomers Started Families & Companies Started Laying Off Employees
As Boomers began getting married and having families their priorities changed. They gave up a few of their dreams, realizing their families’ security depended on a stable environment and a steady income. Along the way they worked harder and harder – began going into work a few hours on a weekend, and even began identifying success, dedication and loyalty with long hours.
25 – 35 years ago employee/employer loyalty was also very straightforward; if you were loyal and hard-working your company would be loyal to you. But that isn’t the case anymore. For the last 20 years Boomers (and their children), have seen layoffs at all levels – in all industries. No matter how senior you are or how many years you’ve ‘invested’ in the company – you are not safe.
And yet, we wonder why Millennials are not loyal? Could it be that while they were growing up their Boomer parents taught them that they could only count on themselves?
Millennials Have Been Set-up For A Challenge
Millennials are smart, creative, the most educated and the most connected youth ever… and their social values are terrific. Millennials plan is to live life to the fullest – respect each other – embrace differences / diversity and love the planet. This sounds like a 20 something Boomer to me.
And while Millennials exude energy, ideas and comfort with technology, they also have exponentially more social pressure than any previous generation; their families and social network is watching… all the time.
In addition, Millennials are challenged because they have been told by their Boomer parents and their educators that the world is their oyster and to not settle. Unfortunately, while Millennials are smart, creative and agile… they lack experience… I mean long-term “I’ve been doing this for 20 years” experience – you know – the experience that Boomers and Generation X have.
This Is The Opportunity
I think we need to turn back the clock to a time when work/ life balance was commonplace – not a luxury. We need to all give each other an opportunity to have a life – to not expect working 10 hours a day and one or two days on a weekend ALL THE TIME. We have to let ourselves go home and be with our family and friends and grandchildren – and not check our smartphones before we go to bed. We have to make working at 10PM (or midnight), an exception… or out of the question… not the rule.
One of the great lessons Boomers can now share with Millennials is patience… that the whole world doesn’t change in the span of a university semester. That knowing something can take months – but becoming an expert can take years. That the value Millennials have is knowledge, creativity, agility… and that the value Boomers have is experience, wisdom. And together… WOW… what an awesome team… they could be… if only.
Millennials expect to be engaged, involved, inspired and proud of their work… and if they don’t get this they leave… because that is what Boomer parents taught their children to do. And really, this is not so different from what Boomers wanted – and still want from their work.
Boomers and Generation Xers have to remember what they wanted when they were 20 something. What were their ambitions and values… because these ambitions and values were great… are great! There is still opportunity for Boomers and Generation Xers to bring these values and teamwork into their work as great mentors – and great co-workers with Millennials. But Boomers and Generation Xers also have to embrace change – to learn to sit back and patiently listen to new ideas – and to help Millennials to learn to sit back and patiently listen to experience.
So is it true Baby Boomers and Millennials are alike? I say yes!
Happy communicating and creating workplace harmony.
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