Ron and I recently compared areas of interest. We decided a discussion about a boss (or potential boss) who is a Baby Boomer could be useful. You know a lot about Boomers. Your parents are Boomers.
Some tips from my experiences as a Baby Boomer, a parent and a boss:
- Don’t stereotype. There are a lot of Boomers, but they aren’t all alike. One common trait: we think we’re all very different.
- Identify the motivation. Like all bosses, find out what they hope to accomplish through or at work. Get in sync.
- What’s her retirement plan? Could explain a lot about decision-making and risk-taking. It also indicates future organizational changes. Or not. Many Boomers will work longer than their predecessors. Plan accordingly. This shouldn’t be the first thing you ask. Or second.
- Does he have kids? It may explain management style and interpersonal relations. Do you remind him of his son or daughter? Is that good? And, remember, he’s your boss, not your parent. While on the subject, no matter how much your parents still hover, don’t let them enter the relationship with your boss.
- What’s the tech profile? Determine how you can make a contribution with your tech skills. Your expertise will help develop communications strategies, how colleagues communicate, and how you can personally assist (“reverse mentor”) the boss.
- Watch the E word. Boomer management can’t stereotype you as an “Entitled Gen Y-er.” You will “pay your dues,” too. You will not talk about your job being a stepping stone to what you really want to do. Your “work/life balance” will comply with the organization’s expectation…at least until you are senior enough to change it.
- Leverage your talents. You are entering the work force as an intelligent, well-educated, resourceful professional. Take on responsibility. Don’t expect as much positive reinforcement as you might like. If you are doing something wrong, you’ll find out.
Finally, statistics suggest you will be the boss of a Baby Boomer or two before long. Prepare now to be good at it. Then let me–and your parents–know how Boomers can be high-performing employees of a Gen Y boss!
Rich Jernstedt recently set up a consulting practice, The Jernstedt Company. He served in senior roles at Fleishman-Hillard, where he continues as a consultant, and GolinHarris. At Golin, Rich rose from account supervisor to CEO and Chairman during his 26 years at the agency. While attending the University of Oregon, activities included the campus newspaper (business manager), student senate, public relations chair of Homecoming, and senior class president.