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A Millenial and A Boomer: Oh, What a Pair!

I am a tail-end Baby Boomer, but think more like a Gen X’er. But I’m still a far cry from Gen Y, a generation I’ve grown to enjoy and admire immensely. Gen Y has a suppleness of thinking combined with an inherent need to share—everything is documented and discussed. Which means we can all benefit from Gen Y wisdom, if we so choose, by simply going on Facebook, BrazenCareerist, or Twitter.

Boomers only share with those they trust, but they know a good idea when they see one. And sometimes, because they are more private or god forbid, focused, Boomers will miss those pearls of wisdom being dropped so casually across every social network platform. And yet, if delivered if an organized fashion to the right people at the right time, many of these ideas are of real interest.

My suggestion: Boomers and Millenials should pair up. Boomers need Millenials to interpret and filter for them, because Boomers won’t take their time to sift through all the noise. And Millenials? They need polishing, professionalism and presentation.

As a Boomer, it’s ideal to have a secret weapon—a sleuth who, during the night, pulls articles of interest, blog posts and videos and delivers them to your doorstep by morning. In exchange for which, you decide whether to make the right introductions or even fund an idea. Both generations think like entrepreneurs, only one picks up the phone and the other texts or Twitters. It’s an interesting mix.

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8 Responses to A Millenial and A Boomer: Oh, What a Pair!

  1. Love this and wrote a similar posts months ago; that said, I wrote it from the perspective of a “GEN Yer”. Very simple concept that has not been embraced by the masses: a two way mentoring program. Boomers and “X”ers possess the experience that Gen Y is missing. Some Gen Ys would argue that experience is not important and that NOW it’s all about the “mission, passion, etc”. Those are the Gen Y’s that will fail several times until they can finally “check their ego at the door” enough to realize that passion is a great thing; if cultured and harnessed correctly. Similarly, Gen Y and “Boomers” could stand to ‘check their ego at the door’ as well and learn to take the positive attributes you’ve listed above and learn from them.

    I’ve been successful for 2 reasons: 1) I have the “passion” of the Gen Y generation 2) I’ve sought out the most intelligent, experienced individuals in industries I’ve worked in / been interested in so they can TEACH me based on their experience, how to best use that passion.

    If corporations / companies would make a concerted effort to match both groups; 1 gen Y and 1 boomer; into mentoring relationships (2 way mentoring relations), I think we’d see a more productive workplace. I pasted a couple paragraphs from the blog entry I posted months ago….

    “Here is my “Gen Y” advice to executives: Stop managing the masses and build your “Gen Ys” using mentorships. This is not brain surgery. All articles I’ve read have several points that most of the fancy Harvard, BusinessWeek, and other Business Journals agree on; 1) Gen Y’s value relationships (TRUE) 2) Gen Y’s want meaning in their jobs (TRUE) 3) Gen Y’s grew up in the era of constant reinforcement, hence – they want feedback; and they want it NOW (TRUE).

    There is one apparent solution to managing Gen Y’s. MENTORS!

    That said, as with any relationship, this is a “two way street”. CEO’s can’t just ‘assign’ mentors. The HR departments need to take the extra 30 minutes to provide questionnaires to these young employees / our future executives. And then like anything else; proteges must be matched with the mentor that “meets their needs” and genuinely care about not just the success of their protege, but their professional AND personal growth. Gen Y’s want mentors who will not only teach them the ‘business world’, but will listen to how business is affecting their life; and give advice on how to maintane both their business and personal life.

    I’ve turned down $250 / hour jobs to work for $50 / hour just so I can learn from certain executives. I wonder though – if these executives have even given a thought to how they can utilize my “want” to be like and learn from them. It would seem they have not. I would work for free in return for being mentored and taught what they know. If every executive would invest a couple hours a week to professional and personal development; giving challenges and then providing feedback; I bet most of us would work for far less money. Not only that, but we would also stamp out the “stigma” that we are ‘job hoppers’ as we would be loyal to our mentors, and thus, our companies. I know the Gen Y’s I surround myself would do the same. While we may like the ‘short term gain’ of money, we far more value the long term gain of knowledge and experience.”

  2. Ric says:

    right on! here’s great NPR story re bicycling’s increasing popularity. NOTE: listen closely to part re National Geographic staff. There’s a Boomer/Millennial pearl in there.

    http://www.npr.org/2010/11/23/131539669/switching-gears-more-commuters-bike-to-work

    Ric

  3. Charlie says:

    I’m in complete agreement. In the last few years, I’ve noticed a clear trend with my entry-level consultants. They’re always informally pairing off with Boomers at the client site rather than Gen Xers. Whereas I originally set them up with Gen X mentors and networks, I’ve found that Boomers (aside from being more professionally prepared for mentorship) are not only more willing to help, the Millennials are more likely to seek their input.

  4. Michael says:

    You forgot one thing about Boomers they are complicated as you seem to be describing one of many types.

    Ever hear of Google before you type?

  5. Allison says:

    Thanks, Ric! Not surprising that the pairing also goes well with exercise.

  6. Allison says:

    Jamie, this is great. One of the things you’ve hit on towards the end is that Gen Y’s are ready to be mentored and would gladly trade salary for training. That is consistent with what I hear from my interviews with that group. I think the problem may lie on the other end: Boomers may not be willing to devote as much time to actually training and auditing the performance of those they mentor. As we know, Boomers are more proscribed in their habits around work and life outside work, and may be less willing to eat into their time, whereas Gen Y’s don’t mind multitasking and mixing work and play. I wonder what the solution is. Any ideas?

  7. Bethel Perna says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  8. Allison says:

    Hi Bethel, thanks very much for your kind words–much appreciated!

    Allison

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