We have come to a time in the workforce when it is likely that your co-workers and boss might not be your age or even your generation. It is important to consider that people approach their jobs from different perspectives.
This is an odd feeling for Baby Boomers who dominated the workforce for years. Now, though, the Millennials are taking over. The title of a fascinating recent article says it all: “By the Year 2020, almost half of the workforce will be made up of these people”, referring, of course, to Millennials.
We know they are different from Boomers. But how is a Boomer supposed to work with a Millennial? And vice versa? And how are Boomers supposed to find a job in a workplace dominated (soon) by Millennials?
We start by understanding each other. Then we must accommodate the other generation’s needs. And stop complaining.
Being young, Millennials have lots of energy. They have varied interests and love technology. They are not working for the sake of work – they really value their life outside of work. They love to collaborate and expect to receive lots of feedback.
Boomers must respond to these needs. It is possible and likely that you will be working for someone way younger than you – get over it now. To succeed, and even survive, you must learn to accommodate and see the world through their perspective.
Here are some tips for Boomers learning to work for and with Millennials:
- Find energy. Somewhere. Start an exercise program to build up the stamina needed to keep up with people who work and think fast. From energy comes enthusiasm.
- Be flexible and open to new ideas. The way it has always been done is not necessarily the best way.
- Embrace technology. Learn to text. Stop complaining about it and get an iPod and a phone plan that allows texting. Put the Yellow Pages away and learn to use Google to find answers and resources.
- Collaborate more. Millennial’s love to collaborate so the odds are getting slimmer that you can take your work back to your cubicle and emerge with the final product. Expect meetings and shared assignments or presentations. Make sure everyone understands the boundaries and deadlines but get in there and pitch in with the rest of the team. It can be energizing.
- Motivate. Create a positive work environment that encourages colleagues to be comfortable asking questions and striving to do more. Set challenging goals then figure out ways to get results. Be positive.
- Give feedback. Take a few minutes every day, in every meeting to find something to praise. Give feedback in the teachable moment so your colleagues can learn and grow.
- Smile. Don’t be a grumpy Gus. Be the person other folks want to work with.