I am one of hundreds of thousands of baby boomers still in the job market and currently working side-by-side with people the same age as my 27-year-old daughter. Needless to say, it can be very challenging at times and I can’t count the number of occasions when I’ve heard, read or seen things that leave me speechless — and trust me, that’s pretty hard to do. Eventually, we will be making our exit from the daily grind but, for the duration, we will have to find a way to co-exist peacefully and respectfully with our Millennial counterparts. So how do we accomplish this?
Things Not to Do
Don’t treat them like children: The last thing your younger colleagues want to do is go to work and feel like they’re working with mom, dad or a grandparent. Even if they don’t behave with the level of maturity YOU think they ought to display, they should still be respected and acknowledged for what they bring to the table. Scolding them, talking down to them or even ignoring their presence says more about you than it does about them. Their resentment for you will only continue to grow and, soon, word will get around amongst their fellow Millennial co-workers that you are a pain in the ass and God forbid, should you need help navigating something on the computer.
Don’t be condescending: How many times have you said, “Back in my day …?” Every generation has its flaws so it’s unfair to assume a superiority over your younger colleagues. You weren’t perfect then. You didn’t have all the answers and you surely aren’t perfect now. One thing young people don’t appreciate is older folks at work trying to tell them the way they used to do it was the right way and the only way. Times have changed and ideas have advanced.
Things to Do
Be willing to learn something new: Simply put, this means being adaptable to change. Yes, we are used to the old adage, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it but Millennials are of the opinion that you could be working with a broken or bad anything and not even know it so why not try another way to see if you can get a better result. Millennials are all about trying new ways of doing things in an effort to produce better results while Baby-Boomers tend to get stuck in the habit of doing the same thing the same old way.
Show your wisdom: The beauty of aging is we become wiser after learning from all the mistakes we made during our younger years. And hopefully, you have learned a thing or two. No need to demonstrate a holier than thou attitude but you can certainly be a shining example of what your Millennial co-workers can aspire to by sharing your knowledge and helpful resources. Let them know you were once where they are. Be open and honest with them about challenges they may face and extend a helping hand to help them achieve their goals if they have any.
Treating Millennials with respect, being adaptable, and sharing your expertise will go a long way toward a happy and productive workplace. Let’s make it work at work!
ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER
Beverly Mahone is a veteran journalist, author, coach, and motivational speaker. After more than 30 years in radio and TV news, Beverly created BAM Enterprises. Among her clients are Baby-Boomers and Seniors who are reentering the job market. She also works with employers to help them understand how to recruit and train Millennials. Beverly has appeared on numerous radio and TV talk programs including MSNBC. She has been featured in the New York Times and has written five books including the Amazon Best Sellers How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder and The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide: Making it Work at WORK. She has written for or been covered by the Huffington Post, Forbes, and Newsweek magazine.