Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Deal With It

I read an op-ed recently about how millennials should deal with baby boomers at work that was so patronizing that at first I thought it was meant to be humor.

Here are some phrases that stood out:

What are the best practices for handling their [baby boomers] Luddism and fragile egos?

And don't talk to boomers as if their methods (even the ancient ones) are stupid.

… don't mock their clueless questions.

Recognize that baby boomers have a lot of fear and anger about technology, and tread gently.

…baby boomers love to be heard and admired.

If you are tempted to roll your eyes, carefully fix your gaze on your computer until the feeling has passed.

Seriously? It’s that hard to work with baby boomers. Fragile egos? More fragile than a millennial’s?

This whole business of the generations coexisting in the workplace is getting tired. Young people have been working for and with older workers since forever. The only thing that’s really changed in the last 10 years or so is the large number of tech start-up businesses that were founded and run by twenty-somethings. Unlike generations past, we now have twenty-five year-olds in charge of large corporate entities and they tend to hire employees who are the same age or younger. The products are cutting edge apps for social media or entirely new software products. Once these businesses are up and running, there is often a need for more experienced or seasoned employees to handle certain aspects of the business (e.g. financial, distribution, marketing). Enter the boomers.

To be fair, the author of the op-ed was addressing how millennials in more conventional workplaces with boomer dominated cultures should make an effort to get along with their overlords. But as already noted, this is not a new “problem” that requires advanced training in socialization. Sons and daughters have been working for mothers and fathers without internecine warfare for quite some time now. It has not always been friction free, but on balance, it has managed to sort itself out with few casualties. Soon millennials will be in charge and the next generation will be writing op-eds on how to manage the fogies.

And so it goes.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.