Did Boomer Parents Prepare You For A Boomer Boss? These 7 Tips Will Help


Rich Jernstedt


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: 

  1.  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. 
  2. Identify the motivation.  Like all bosses, find out what they hope to accomplish through or at work.  Get in sync. 
  3.  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.
  4.  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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 

3 thoughts on “Did Boomer Parents Prepare You For A Boomer Boss? These 7 Tips Will Help

  1. I think this is post makes great points! I have a question about number 6. You said “You will not talk about your job being a stepping stone to what you really want to do.” What if what you really want to do is work higher up in the organization where you are currently entry level. Would it be acceptable to talk about that goal?

  2. Brynne.
    Thanks for the “stepping stone” question. Certainly, referring to the goal of working up the ladder–even at the entry level–is smart. But fast-trackers have to be appropriately impatient with your progress. My caution is referencing “this job is a stepping stone” to another company, even in another field. It’s surprising how many young professionals openly discuss intentions to leave current employment for something else. No way to motivate your management to commit to your career development. Hope that helps. Rich.

  3. I definitely hope that I am the boss of a baby boomer soon. I would definitely like to be on a fast track to the top, however, I realize that a job is a “dues” paying organization. I feel that what you get out of a job is determined by what you put into it. If you work hard and prove yourself in an organization, network as much as you can, and always give 110% then when it comes to finding that new job/position your senior managers will realize the effort you have put into the organization. I have realized this from the Baby Boomer bosses that I have already had, and I am one of the “Gen Yers”.

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