Baby Boomers to Gen Y…People Are No Different

In the workplace and the world around we are inundated with how Generation Y (or the Millennials) are such a different generation.  Questions arise asking how to bridge the gap between the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y in the workplace.  Generation Y is so much different that we have to make accommodations for them.

People contend the generations are too different and we should treat them that way.  On the contrary, I don’t believe that there are any real differences between the generations.  Sure Gen Y is more adept at using technology to their advantage but I contend that Generation X was the same way.  I always got calls from my mother about computer issues like, “How do you add a border to a cell in Excel?”

The biggest difference I hear about in the workplace is that Gen Y has a target job in mind and will change companies many times to achieve that target job.  The job may not be a specific high ranking position in management.  It has to do with making a difference and feeling like they accomplished something when they go home at the end of the day.  Gen Y was leave a company to continue to seek that.

I really don’t see how that is any different than any other generation.  That is basic respect for people.  To me, that boils down to a manager understanding what makes his employees tick and putting them in positions to use their strengths in order to succeed.  This concept is the basis of the book First, Break All the Rules.  The authors studied many mangers over the last several years.  This is before Gen Y even hit the workplace.  The basic concept is that great managers understand the strengths of their employees and develops their strengths, not their weaknesses, in order to make them successful.  People are inclined to want to develop a strength because it is something of interest so they will dive in and learn more.

This is basic human nature, not a generational gap.

I am part of Generation X.  When I was younger I heard a lot of similar things about my generation.  About how different we were from Baby Boomers and the generation before.  I don’t believe it is a generation thing at all.  It is a stage of life thing.  As people get older we get a different perspective on things.  There is nothing wrong with that.  We just have to understand it.

The next time you start to blame something on the generational gap stop and ask yourself, “Am I being and old whipper snapper?” or “Am I being a young rebel?” that isn’t understanding what stage of life the other person is in?  Or is it truly something that is a generational gap.

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Posted on September 26, 2011, in Misc, People, Respect for People and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One thing different between Baby Boomers and Gens X and Y is that the younger generations are much more accepting of women in the workplace. Their moms and grandmas were managers, engineers, or in other positions of responsibility and they see that as normal. Baby Boomers may have wanted to adopt that value, but grew up in an age where women had few choices and were not taken seriously by men. It was not natural to them — and that remains a problem among many of them.

    Younger people do feel more entitled. Older people had to jump through more hoops and follow more rules, and they feel unsettled when younger people “get away with” working their own hours, IM-ing while they work on something else, or asking for what they want. That’s also true when those same women who had to fight for respect are seen as abrasive or hard. The same strategies that made some women succeed may now be barriers to human connection.

    The challenge that remains as Baby Boomers are pushed to retirement is the lack of respect for older people. They have decades left to add value, perhaps as part-timers or subject matter experts in some domains if not full-time employees, and not all of them want to play golf.

  2. I find all the generational labeling and stereotyping silly. No one in my family or circle of friends fit the stereotypes of their generation as labeled by all these psycho-babble dimwits trying to sell books and services by pigeon-holing people. I liken the labeling to that age old “what do you do?” method of trying to categorize people.

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