Confessions of a Recovering Baby Boomer

Posted: May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

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 “Millennial”, came up with 5,620,000 hits in 0.27 seconds. Wow! And I am constantly hearing about how the New Workforce is so disloyal, impatient, just 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 Gen-Y, Millennial, 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!Image

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 as well as working with individuals whose birthdays place them in virtually all the work groups out there today, I’ve identified some practical steps 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. all 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 career opportunities.

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 seeks 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 (I once wrote a blog on this called “Play Me or Trade Me”). Help them discover and develop their natural talents and capabilities, rather than simply insisting that they merely “do what they are told.”

And, if you are the employee, identify and practice what I like to call your “Best Stuff” to benefit both you and your organization.

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

  1. lorenstrand says:

    Thanks for the wonderful post Barry! Perhaps a challenge for the Gen-Xers isn’t the work itself but the fear of creating their own map to get the work done. It’s my opinion that recent generations of schooling in our system is producing a workforce that is looking for directions (industrial model) rather than talking initiative in their own direction.

    Seth Godin ( writes very well on the topic of being a linch pin. There are lots of bright stars in every generation. Yet, until we recalibrate our goals for an elementary/high school education, I fear the same “I only see work/Tell me what to do” will remain a problem.

    For anyone wondering how we could change schools to foster generations who see opportunity (like the Boomers), take a look at the outstanding, short read by Seth Cheers!

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