Many articles have a ridiculous generation bias when comparing millennials and baby boomers, especially in the workplace. The 2013 Ernst & Young survey stated: 75% of managers said that managing multi-generational teams is a challenge, and 77% also said that different work expectations among generations is a leading challenge they face. This statistic alone pushed writers, journalists, and “experts” to dig deep into the issues and attempt to find solutions. Where some articles may have been able to provide some insight on understanding this “generational gap” others muddied the waters and just made gaps larger. These following excerpts from an article “Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Who Would You Rather Hire?” posted by Dan Schawbel in TIME Magazine demonstrates some of the disparities between these two generations. Three topics in this article: “Millennials work when they want to work”, “Millennials require your immediate attention”, and “Millennials aren’t all about the money” are perfect examples of how the gaps are widened by creative writing skills, but also offer great information that can potentially close the gaps.
Let’s look at the first topic of: “Millennials work when they want to work”. This article used the statistic “81% of millennials think they should be allowed to make their own hours at work, compared to only 69% of boomers” and discussed the millennial need for more flexibility in getting same statistic would be: the majority of both millennials and Baby Boomers would love to make their own hours at work. 69% is still more than half of a generation, and you also have to take under consideration you are asking some baby boomers to break a habit they have been accustomed to for more generations than some millennials have existed. Change resistance is a major physiological study for a reason: because it’s real. However, given the fact that 69% of Baby Boomers would love to make the change is an outstanding response rate and really highlights the fact the Baby Boomers are not as resistant to change as some may think.
“Millennials require your immediate attention” is a statement that is said in a million different other ways such as: “millennials are a generation of instant gratification”; “social media and the fast food generation makes millennials think the same applies to everything else in life”; ect. Where these generalizations may be statistically true, it doesn’t have to always be interpreted in a negative light. For example, in the same article, the statistic “80% of millennials said they want regular feedback from their managers, and 75% yearn for mentors” is stated as if this is a horrible desire. This statistic was followed by a quote inferring that millennials are looking for a workplace where there “parents” can will hold a “childs” hand and walk with us through life. This quote was from an MTV source, and is an opinion, if followed by statistical data can lend credibility to the overall interpretation.
So let’s put a quick positive spin to this and bridge this generational gap. Due to the progressive changes in technology and the instant gratification of change, millennials are more apt to provide quick and insightful information that can be used in overall business objectives. Pair this millennial with a progressive baby boomer, you may have an awesome, and possible very productive, combination. Imagine if the baby boomer provided some guided direction to the steadfast millennial; the duo may be able to achieve better results in a more timely fashion which can lead to the growth of corporations on so many levels.
The instant gratification topic closely ties with “Millennials aren’t all about the money” because this excerpt then discusses how “76% of millennials think their boss could learn a lot from them, compared to only 50% of boomers” and millennials are motivated by providing creative value and understanding “where [their] work is going”. Millennials are almost crying out: “I WANT TO BE AN ASSET!” “I WANT TO SEE GROWTH AND CHANGE FOR ALL MANKIND!” This can be an amazing asset! Tom Sightings best said in his article “8 differences between millennials and baby boomers” for usnews,“This generation is the first in U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than their parents. The unemployment rate for millennials is higher than it was for their parents at the same age, and they have higher student debt”. Let’s face it, millennials are a less affluent generation, but they are willing and able to see the progress of our communities at any cost. As long as we have a cell phone, a place to sleep at night, and free wifi access, everything else is just icing on the cake.
While dictionaries, magazines, and other scholarly articles struggle to get a cookie-cutter definition of an entrepreneur (let’s face it, this isn’t something you can just put into a box and define) I think dictionary.com got it right by defining an entrepreneur as: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” A large part of Entrepreneurship normally takes “considerable initiative and risk”; whatever a person’s age, taking a leap and dedicating time and resources to make it a success is a challenge! Looking at the progress of these generations from a workforce development perspective provides valuable insight on how one can interact as an entrepreneur.
Millennials are already taking the risks. They are getting out of college, jobs aren’t readily available because they are competing with their parents for them, the media and the baby-boomers are downplaying or short-sighting their progress more than embracing it, and they still find a way to create the Facebooks and other multi-million dollar companies of the world. Millennials have nothing to lose; we are ready to put our lives, ideas, and vision on the line to create something great, whether it’s within or outside of a culture that has been originally created.
The more seasoned professionals took those same risks when they were at the current age of the millennials. They put in different sweat equity and are now managing their risk with a little more certainty, but still looking to progress and stay current within the growth of economic disparities in our capitalistic society.
So if you ask me, it’s not a generational thing, it’s a perspective thing. Media and society can continue to have a negative perspective on anything we do in life, but sometimes you just have to put that all aside and put the resources you have into something you love or may think holds value within our community. When we continue to move forward with positive energy, progress happens.
Take Argent Place Law for example. We are already creating a culture and environment that breaks traditional norms. We have this Baby Boomer attorney who has a background in engineering and technology who has been paired together with this passionate and driven millennial entrepreneur who are willing to change the dynamic of law and business while also managing other projects. We both love to work from home, but still go into offices when necessary, the clients receive quality service, and the background and supplementary services needed to grow the business still happen with consistency and fortitude. Who knows, maybe Argent Place Law will create a new platform of generational diversity that will be used in corporate practices.
I’m a proud millennial entrepreneur who has nothing but the utmost respect for any hard-working intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial. I try to work through life in understanding that everyone has some very valuable assets that they have acquired through their personal journey; if you ask the right questions, you may be able to utilize those assets in a very productive way. So yes, managing multi-generational teams can be a challenge in the workplace or otherwise; the key to bridging the gap is putting less focus on the generalizations and focusing more on the individual.