Confessions of a Recovering Baby Boomer

Posted: March 15, 2016 in career, career development, Gift of Self Career Services
Tags: , , ,

social-security-card-baby-boomers1OK, 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 over 1.6 million hits. Wow! And I am constantly hearing about how the New Workforce is so disloyal, impatient, in it for themselves, etc., etc., 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 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!

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 feel I have some practical insights regarding these shifts in the workplace. A client once 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 opportunities.

So, opportunity and more work can happen simultaneously.

What can we do about this, as either an employer or employee? Is loyalty completely dead?

Thoughts for the Employer:

A former co-worker has suggested that loyalty in the newer workforce is not dead, but it now wants to be earned, not simply given immediately. Take steps 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 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.”

Insights for the Employee:

Identify what I like to call “Your Best Stuff,” the God-given abilities, interests, values that drive you and seek opportunities to practice them in your present job and in your career development. This is why I borrowed the phrase “Work as Gift of Self” from Marsha Sinetar in To Build the Live You Want, Create the Work You Love.

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?!

  1. Confessions of a Recovering Jones’er.
    Love reading your thoughts, Mr. B. I’m technically a Generation Jones (1954-1965); an inbetween’er. We reflect values of both Boomers and X’ers and have a major identity crisis because we are neither, and we are both. We’ve watched all the factories shut down, double-digit inflation, the layoffs, the high unemployment of the 70’s-80’s; wanting all that the Boomers had just moments before us, yet watching it all slip through our fingers. My dad was pink-slipped by GM just a few years before his full retirement. That was the example of “loyalty” by an employer many of us witnessed as teens. We were the first to embrace the idea of Me, Inc.; not out of selfishness ambition, but out of basic necessity in the marketplace. Flexibility, adaptability, re-tooling, and re-education have been the norm for Jones’ in a working world of downsizing, rightsizing, and RIF’s. The Great Recession was just another day at the office. Because of that, I think we’re a bit jaded, distrusting and cynical towards employers, especially those who put profits before people. In that, work has become a search for self-identity; a journey of discovering who we are and where we fit “in-between” these two larger generations. Work as a gift of self, is all that we hold to and trust in an ever changing world.

  2. Lloyd Weiler says:

    Great read Barry, I have never heard the distinction of the age groups but it makes sense! Being born in 1983 and growing up on a farm I learned that success comes in the form of hard and true grit!! Unfortunately it was not my idea but my dads to teach me work ethic and as I look around now at my peers now its seems a lost art! The idea of working as an independent person not tied to any company is great! I think it keeps us from getting the intitlement mentality! I know this varies from place to place but I see most people looking for a hand out than hand up! In short I’m scared that as we go back to the point where each is responsible for his own future, can our work force handle the brutal reality that no one will take care of them if they don’t? Information in the form of this article is a great wake up call that no one is coming to their rescue! Keep writing and wake up you who slumber!

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