Confessions of a Recovering Baby Boomer

Posted: August 9, 2010 in career

OK, I admit it. I was born smack dab in the middle of the Boomer Generation. I can’t help it; I was not privy to the decision for me to enter the world.

I did a quick Internet search this morning on the term “Millenial”, came up with over 478,000 hits. Wow! And I am constantly hearing about how the New Workforce is so disloyal, impatient, in it for themselves, etc.

Some time ago I read the following (don’t ask me where, I read all the time): “If you give a Boomer another task, they see an opportunity. If you give the same task to a Gen X-er (or any of the new terms out there for the emerging work force), they see MORE WORK.”

I’ve been puzzling over that distinction for some time now, asking myself “Who is right here?”

I think I have the answer: They BOTH are!

Another task IS more work, and it is ALSO an opportunity to demonstrate value, acquire more skills, expand one’s influence, etc.

Having read a number of books and countless blogs on this topic (Generations in the Workplace is one of my organization’s training topics) as well as working with individuals whose birthdays place them in virtually all the work groups out there today, I feel I have some practical insights regarding these shifts in the workplace. A recent client told me that his son challenged him for his unwavering commitment to the company that decided to show him the door, suggesting that it was a waste of time. My client was able to see the other side of the coin as well, noting that his extensive experience, qualifications, skill sets, etc. were a direct result of his years with the company. As a newly minted “Free Agent,” he can now take all of his expertise out into the wide and woolly world of new employment opportunties.

So, opportunity and more work can happen simultaneously.

What’s an employer to do about this?

How can you attract new talent without training them so they can cross the street to work for your competitors?

Is loyalty completely dead?

A co-worker of mine has suggested that loyalty in the newer workforce is not dead, but it now wants to be earned, not simply given immediately. Seek to demonstrate that they are valued, allowed to have a life outside of work, seen as real “Human Resources” to be tapped into, nurtured and developed (reference my earlier blog, “Play Me or Trade Me” for more on this). Help them discover and develop their natural talents and capabilities, rather than simply insisting that they merely “do what they are told.”

After all, wouldn’t it be great if “doing what I am told” and “getting to do what I do best every day” were the same message?!

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Comments
  1. Alaina Rivas says:

    I read a recruitment blog this weekend and came across a post titled Recruiting is a Matter of Perspective -> http://bit.ly/dvYwNC

    At the bottom of the article the author Glen Cathy, touches on the generational topic saying “I know and understand (and loathe) the human need for labels and categorization, but the fact of the matter is that you simply cannot generalize and stereotype everyone that’s been born in the 80’s or 90’s.”

    I agree with him and posted the following comment under his blog post:

    I’ve worked hard to overcome this stereotype but probably about once a month the conversation comes up and once again this generalization becomes a hurdle I have to overcome. Wikipedia has me categorized as something I’m not – 60 minutes did a piece that called me (because of the age group I just so happened to fall in) a narcissistic praise hound. They point the finger at Mr. Roger’s for my generations down fall! Don’t believe me, check out http://bit.ly/MillenialsGenY. This type of thought process is not only absurd, it is absolutely insulting! I personally am much the opposite of every generalization that consultants and “experts” say I am… again due solely to my age.

    • Barry Davis says:

      Your point is well taken, Alaina. I could not agree more, and encourage all my clients from all such “labels” to understand the potential stereotyping (don’t become paranoid, though, looking for it across every HR desk, etc.) and be sure they are making a clear for who they really are in their resume, cover letter, social networking, etc. as opposed to the group to which they are “assigned” by birthdate.

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