Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Millennials Managing Boomers

Last week I talked about characteristics of the Millennials, the young people you are hiring today. If you check last week’s post, you will see a great comment and additional info from one of our readers. Thank you, unidentified reader, for contributing.

This week, let’s explore a 24-year-old Millennial who has to manage a 55-year-old Boomer.


  • · Respect Boomers’ experience and use it. Ask them about the history of projects and relationships. Rely on their expertise.
  • · Don’t worry about being talked down to. It’s hard for me to type that, but I’m sure that Boomers probably come across as patronizing when addressing a Millennial boss. The Boomer’s generation valued experience and time on the job. That won’t change overnight.
  • · Prove you can learn. Engage a Boomer as a confidante or mentor in his or her area of expertise. Lead by learning.
  • · Use your natural collaborative tendencies and engage Boomers as fellow teammates. Help them work together. Your understanding of teamwork is very different from theirs.
  • · Don’t assume their way is like yours. My part-time Millennial staffer just accused me of trying to make something harder than it needs to be. I won’t admit to TRYING to make it harder, but that was the effect. The Millennial is right.


  • · Let go of your ego. Think about all the performance reviews you don’t have to deal with because you’re NOT the boss. Think about how much better you can sleep at night, because the Millennial boss has the problems.
  • · Stop parenting. If you want to give advice, ask permission first. Something along the line of “Is it OK if I share with you what I’m thinking?” Or “Do you want to hear how I would handle that?”
  • · Don’t dig in your heels and refuse to change. Business and life are about constant change these days. Deal with it. Solve problems rather than create them.
  • · Offer the benefit of your experience, but do so in private. This is similar to “stop parenting.” Don’t embarrass your Millennial boss by correcting him, based on your experience, in front of others. You may be right, but spectators will think you’re a fill-in-the-blank. And it isn’t good.


I’d like to do a quick survey of how you use (or don’t) social networking sites. Please take 30 seconds and answer this survey. This one is anonymous. We will share results.

3-question social networking survey or paste into your URL


Thanks. See you next week.


Mark Ed Page said...

Maybe We Should "Parent" A Little

Stop parenting, you said. Ask permission to give advice. My observation of my own kids - Millenials all - is that frequently what other adults say has value. Just not the parents advice. Find a good way to parent, teach and coach.

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