Part 2: Examples from my hour “Breaking Generational Barriers” program.

Baby Boomers were born between approximately 1943-1960 (1946-1964 according to some records).  Their formative years did not include microwaves, smart phones and ipods.  They learned the keyboard on a typewriter.  They learned to be assertive, are catalysts for change, have strong ego’s and high energy levels, brought teamwork into the workplace, and thrive on recognition.  They learned from the Traditionalists before them to be committed to the vision and mission of their companies.  Boomers also learned that success takes time, that there are no instant fixes.  That they must “earn” respect and a higher place on the totem pole.

One big complaint of the younger generations is that Boomers are withholding their years of knowledge, that they are inflexible with work hours, set in their ways and not willing to try new approaches to problem solving. Some say they take too long to communicate their point.  Can I get an amen?

Understand that Boomers have worked hard and fear the younger generation taking over their jobs before they are ready and financially able to retire. In their younger years, there was an abundance of job opportunities, something that is sorely missing in today’s economy. Those job opportunities meant security. As Boomers have been laid off and replaced with younger workers, much of their hesitancy to share information is out of fear of losing their jobs once the new person is trained.

How to work with Boomers for a more cohesive team:

 Take the time to get to know them, communicate with them and yes…speak face-to-face on occasion and express yourself and your ideas beyond a quick text or email.

  1. Do NOT constantly check emails and texts in meetings or classes as Boomers interpret this as being disrespectful and inconsiderate .
  2. Look beyond age and wrinkles to the strength and experience of those who went through wars, civil rights and women’s movements, and the dawn of a new age of technology that transformed their whole working world.
  3. Honor their skills, opinions, potential and knowledge and let them know that you honor their expertise and all that they have experienced throughout their lives.
  4. Coach Boomers rather than give them short directives, at least until you see how they respond to direction.  Be patient and understand that it is not always easy for an older and more experienced person to take directions from younger management.
  5. Be proud to exhibit a phenomenal work ethic, dress professionally, and explain your reasoning behind doing something a “new” way.  Boomers often want to know the “why” and “how” behind the suggestion.  Once trust has been established, they will be more willing to let you take the ball and run with it.
  6. Show a sense of urgency when given a project. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions since they want to feel that their knowledge is valued.
  7. Ask Boomers questions, invite them to lunch, offer them honest praise. When you get to know the real person behind that suit or pair of jeans, you will open doors for much more enjoyable and productive work places.

Stay tuned for Part 3:  Generation X–a Powerful Force.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at rita@transformationacademy.com.