Baby Boomer Leaders and Gen Y Teams

One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is integrating the Gen Y twenty-somethings into a Baby Boomer culture. In fact, many of the leaders in today’s companies are part of the Baby Boomer group, with definite work ethics and a standard of high achievement. The Gen Y’ers approach their careers in a different way. They want greater work/life balance and possibly more freedom and constant feedback in their jobs. They were the generation raised on a reward system, receiving certificates, trophies and m&m’s for each of their achievements.  Baby Boomers believed in delayed gratification and were willing to wait for their turn for success. So what can leaders and organizations do to bridge this gap?

According to Tina Paparone, who wrote an article for Under 30 CEO, “The best way for us to understand & maybe even help each other is through open communication.” What a novel thought! I would add that both generations need to understand each others’ values and views of life fulfillment. This is a classic case of conflict resolution, and can best be solved by integrating what is most important to both generations. So how do we begin this challenge?

Communication, communication, communication. Baby Boomer leaders need to reach out and listen to what motivates their Gen Y team members. These twenty-somethings need one-on-one face time with their leaders to discuss feedback about how they are progressing in their jobs. This generation relied on their parents for constant guidance and they have taken this into the workplace. Team leaders need to communicate to their team members the areas of mastery as well as the places to improve, all in a caring way. Small rewards for accomplishments, such as mass e-mails of recognition or just mentioning to them how proud you are, can be helpful.

In turn, Gen Y needs to be willing to come to work on time, put in a full day and be open to constructive criticism in order to progress in their careers. They need to be willing to be part of a team, offering innovative ideas while respecting what a Baby Boomer leader feels is important. Open communication. Talk to each other. You have a lot to offer one another.

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