What You Should Know About Working with Baby Boomers
Working with baby boomers may seem a little intimidating, especially if there is a large age gap.
If you take a look at the various generations across the past century, the one that is probably the most notable after the “The Great Generation” is that of the Baby Boomers. This generation was born after World War II between the years 1946 and 1964. They were the ones growing up during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.
Rest assured, this generation are hard workers, mainly when they understand the end goal. Additionally, they’re a driven bunch with traits such as:
- Strong work ethic
- Monetarily motivated
- “Work hard, play hard” mentality
- Mindsets that are independent and individualistic, able to work on projects alone
- Competitive nature that thrives on performing well for themselves and others
If you work with or manage baby boomers, here are a few tips to keep in mind to build a happy and productive environment.
Technology is a Love/Hate Relationship
Baby boomers have seen significant technological advancements. Still, they sometimes struggle to keep up with each and every update or advance.
The next time you hand out assignments, look for potential tutorials that will help a baby boomer complete the task successfully. Don’t hold back compliments either when you make your request.
Dedication to Their Job
There is no doubt about it – Baby Boomers plan on working much longer than any generation before them. They are efficient and energetic workers.
Whether you are a peer or subordinate, take a moment to acknowledge their hard work and wisdom gained from their years of experience. If you manage a baby boomer, shine the limelight on them once in a while to showcase their knowledge and effort.
With their “work hard, play hard” mentality, this generation is happy to put in the hours to reap the rewards of relaxing in style. Need a job done that includes a cash bonus? Your baby boomer is the one you can depend on. And when they have completed the mission, they will head off on their well-deserved cruise. Millennials don’t understand this passionate drive as they prefer to work smarter, not harder.
Handling Friction and Conflicts
With large age gaps, the potential for conflict is almost guaranteed. Think of it this way, you can have a baby boomer on your team that could have up to 50 years more life experience than that of your Millennial team member. When a younger co-worker starts climbing the corporate ladder, conflicts can arise.
As a manager, remind everyone of their individual achievements and capabilities. Remember, the baby boomers brought us the Civil Rights movement and the advent of feminism. They are home to the individual realm.
If you do find yourself on the receiving end of their hostility, don’t let it overwhelm you. Focus on those areas they are skilled at. Remind yourself of your own strengths. Focus on the positives and remember that each person is competent in different areas. The hostility could be based on fear of a younger co-worker usurping the baby boomer’s position.
As a co-worker, taking time to reassure your older teammate that you are not taking over their office can go a long way in keeping the work environment peaceful.
If you are a manager, take the time to understand any possible fears this generation has. As you calm their concerns, they are able to keep moving along on their projects. Try to give them any special assignment that plays to their strengths and knowledge in that area. This all will help to keep workflow moving smoothly.
Take advantage of their work ethic by using it as a source of inspiration for your younger employees. If you are the younger employee, take a few notes. Find those innovations they’ve contributed to the company. You might just discover the person that made your job easier to do.
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