Managing Millennials & Surviving Boomer Bosses
Managing Millennials & Surviving Boomer Bosses
You’re probably thinking – is this even possible?
Is it possible to manage entitled, spoiled and lazy Millennials? Can anyone survive narcissistic, micromanaging and ego-driven Boomer bosses?
With so many stereotypes, research papers and anecdotal evidence about each generation, it's hard to make sense of the generational gap in the workplace today.
Are the stereotypes real? Can we brand every individual by these generational stereotypes?
Is there a way to bridge generational gaps in the workplace so that everyone's strengths are utilized and celebrated while compensating for the weaknesses? How do we look at every individual as created by God and uniquely wired for the work He has prepared, in advance, for each of us?
God’s Word tells us:
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Regardless of our generation, upbringing, cultural or socio-economic differences, all believers have this one thing in common: Our Father created us on purpose and more than that, He gave us a purpose and equipped us for every good work! So, let’s look at generational differences and conflicts, which undisputedly do exist, in light of Ephesians 2:10.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Boomers
Every generation has its own attributes, qualities as well as its own challenges. Let’s look at the Boomer generation and their good, bad and ugly. Keep in mind we are looking at “general” characteristics of this generation and not labeling every single individual.
Boomers display many great qualities among which are: Strong work ethic, Self-Assurance, Independence, Competitive Spirit, Goal-centric, Disciplined.
Research shows that the Boomer generation is not without blemish. General challenges often highlighted are: Workaholic tendencies, narcissism, set in their ways, technologically challenged and not open to criticism.
When Boomers Edge God Out and Pride and Fear get in the way, they may find themselves protecting their position and power. The fear of losing control and relevance may push them to protect information and relationships since information and access to relationships means power.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Millennials
Every generation has its own attributes, qualities as well as its own challenges. Let’s look at the Millennial generation and their good, bad and ugly. Keep in mind we are looking at “general” characteristics of this generation and not labeling every single individual.
Millennials display many great qualities among which are: Multitaskers, Connected, Tech-Savvy, Curious, Flexible, Collaborative, Transparent.
Research shows that the Millennial generation is not without blemish. General challenges often highlighted are: Entitled, Lazy, Not Loyal, Job Hoppers, Work to Live, Inexperienced.
When Millennials Edge God Out and Pride and Fear get in the way, they may become overconfident. They’ll tend to dismiss the experience and wisdom of those who are older and may quickly lose interest in their assignments if they can’t see fast results and purpose.
Bridging the Generational Gap
Generational differences fueled by unique upbringing and perspectives do exist, but that’s actually NOT bad news. If we look into God’s Word, we see that the primary quality of the body of Christ is the difference between its members. 1 Corinthians 12:13-20 gives us a beautiful image of His body:
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
Our Father not only celebrates our differences, but actually makes a case that we cannot holistically function without those differences!
In 1 Peter 5:1-6 God’s Word also outlines roles, responsibilities and attitudes both those who are older and those who are younger should display:
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
What Can We DO?
What are some practical ways Boomers and Millennials can start bridging generational gaps?
Here are a few suggestions for Boomers when working with or leading Millennials:
- Set short-term goals with frequent feedback.
- Don’t be a stickler when it comes to flexible work schedule and telecommuting. Track performance rather than hours in a cubicle.
- Empower Millennials and pass on your wisdom. They really do want to learn from you!
- Foster their desire for growth by not withholding information. Rather, freely share it.
- Talk about the bigger picture and how their work matters and fits into the overall plan.
- Be transparent. When you make a mistake own up to it and don’t feel the constant pressure to save face. In most cases they already know a mistake was made. Saying “I was wrong” or “I messed up” goes a long way and provides incredible teaching moments.
- Give them access to high-tech tools to achieve their goals.
Here are a few suggestions for Millennials when working with or leading Boomers:
- Be respectful and don’t be pushy. Allow them time to process new ideas and suggestions.
- Show them you value their experience and affirm their expertise. Ask questions and demonstrate the desire to soak up their wisdom.
- Boomers prefer to communicate face-to-face or over the phone so reach out personally on a regular basis.
- Keep them informed and in the loop about everything you do. They appreciate being “in the know.”
- Demonstrate follow-through and responsibility before you ask for privileges like flex time or telecommuting.
- Be accountable and ask for feedback. When goals are set make sure you don’t procrastinate or do things on the whim. This is one way to lose credibility fast!
- Don’t be overconfident. Allow your ideas to be challenged and invite critique. This will demonstrate maturity on your part.
Bridging generational gaps is possible when we choose to Exalt God Only and refuse to be driven by pride and fear!
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