17 Aug

My Boss Is 20 Years Younger Than Me

Articles, Blog 1 Comment by Melinda Williams

Young Boss

There is a lot of attention being paid to our increasingly diverse workplace. There are all types of differences including race, gender, generations and thinking styles, just to name a few. LTAW’s focus this month is on some of the key diversity dimensions and how to navigate them for greater productivity and engagement.

It wasn’t so long ago that when someone said “boss,” most of us envisioned a gray-templed man with decades on the job. But as workplaces have become more technologically driven, leadership opportunities have opened up to younger, more plugged-in employees. Take Facebook for example, the company was founded by Gen Yer Mark Zuckerberg. Can you imagine having a CEO who is only 28 years old? Well, this is often the case for many newer, start-up companies. As Gen Y’s increasingly become the majority in the workplace, a boss that’s 20 or more years your junior is not so far-fetched. And for older workers, that can mean dealing with a younger boss for the first time.

So how do you deal with a supervisor who’s young enough to be your child? Here are a few tips:

  • First things first, don’t bring that up. Don’t mention that your boss is young enough to be your child or that he or she reminds you of your child. Though your supervisor may one day come to you with a question only your experience can answer, don’t assume he or she needs a parent or a mentor.
  • Know what they want. If your boss is significantly younger that you, most likely they are from a different generation than you as well. Understand what his/her generation’s core values and beliefs are and how they play out in the work place.
  • Go electronic. Stay up to date with the newest technology – today’s younger workers are generally all about email, instant messaging and telecommuting. Extended face time is becoming a thing of the past. Though that can make your supervisor seem standoffish, keep in mind that these sorts of methods can save you time, effort and a commute if used to the fullest.
  • Stay current.  Make sure your skills are current and keep your boss up to date on your accomplishments. It may seem like a simple imperative, but seeing your boss as a youngster (and not respecting their position) can push you into the mindset that your past successes should be enough. A young boss, just like any other, wants to know what you’ve done lately.
  • Don’t get weird. Just because your boss is young doesn’t mean you have to act like a 22-year-old, or that you have to show him or her that you could destroy their career. Act your age and remember, this isn’t a competition to show that you’re not too old to work – it’s just another day in a changing work landscape.
  • Be proactive. If even after all of this, the age difference still bothers you – talk to your boss about it in a tactful and respectful way. Harboring ill feelings of working for a younger boss can affect your productivity and happiness. Your supervisor may also be struggling with the age difference and together you may be able to come up with strategies to work through the age gap.

Have you ever experience working with someone who was “too young to be your boss”? Tell us about it!

Value differences! Live inclusively!

15 Aug

Write Me, Call Me, Text Me: Generational Differences in the Workplace

Articles, Blog No Comments by Mareisha Winters

Generations

There is a lot of attention being paid to our increasingly diverse workplace. There are all types of differences including race, gender, generations and thinking styles, just to name a few. LTAW’s focus this month is on some of the key diversity dimensions and how to navigate them for greater productivity and engagement.

You have probably heard by now that there are 4 generations working together in the workplace today in the United States.  Your generational group is determined by the year you were born.  Generations are shaped by the events, political and social, that took place during their formative years.

The oldest generation in the United States workplace today is known as Veterans or Traditionalists, born between 1927 and 1945.  This group was born between the wars and is known as a generation of fighters, grounded in traditions.  When it comes to work, veterans see work as a necessity, and most of them have had the same one job for their entire work life.

The next cohort is the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1963.  Baby Boomers were born during or just after World War II.  This group has seen the world change dramatically in the last 50 years through the industrial revolution, the rise of communication and technologies.  Baby Boomers are, for the most part, still our leaders in the workplace and are struggling to embrace the new ways of working.

Generation Xers were born between 1964 and 1979.  Generation Xers are the children of the Baby Boomers.  This group is responsible for transforming the office as we know it today, and our relation to work.

The youngest, and largest, generation in the United States today is known as Generation Y or the Millennial generation, born between 1980-2000.  This generation is a generation who has grown in opulence compared to other generations.  This generation has been greatly exposed to modern environments and has a good standard of living.  In the workplace, they are used to open space and flexible office environments.

Tips for Working with Different Generations

Now that you know who they are, let’s take a look at how these different groups generally like to be treated in the workplace.

Veteran / Traditionalist
  • Respect their experience – they have a lot of institutional knowledge, so use it!
  • Don‘t assume they don‘t want to learn – many are savvy technologically and have a strong desire to continue learning.
  • Use them as mentors – be sure that they can help develop the next generation of leaders.
  • What retirement? – they may not necessarily want to retire, so give them opportunities to phase out or come back as consultants.
Baby Boomer
  • Lead by consensus – allow space for all voices to be heard and come to an agreement.
  • Reward the effort – make sure to recognize and appreciate their hard work, it pays off in the end.
  • Respect their achievements – many have years within the industry, leverage that experience.
  • Challenge them – provide new organizational issues for them to solve so that they stay engaged.
  • Support work/life – give them flexibility to deal with their personal life, which can include taking care of children and elderly parents.
Generation X
  • Tell the truth – they appreciate honesty, and can see right through “corporate speak”.
  • Respect by competence – earn their respect by demonstrating competence, and they will be a committed team member.
  • Don‘t allow work to become mundane -continuously challenge them with new projects, or risk having them seek it somewhere else.
  • Give them freedom to fail – don‘t micromanage, and place trust in their decisions, whether the outcome is good or bad.
  • Reward results – they don‘t believe in face time and office politics, so reward the work.
Generation Y / Millennial
  • Make work fun – if they like coming to work every day, they are more likely to stay engaged.
  • Give me technology! – they know how to use technology to work better and faster, and from anywhere.
  • How am I doing? – provide continuous feedback and support a job well done.
  • Get a life – they value their personal life, so give them the flexibility to pursue their interests.
  • Onto the next project – keep them engaged with interesting work and have them constantly learning.

When speaking of any population, it is important to remember we use generalities when describing their attitudes and beliefs.  Each individual has their uniqueness and should be treated as such.

Value differences! Live inclusively!

13 Aug

Tips for The Baby Boomer Job Seeker

Articles, Blog No Comments by Melinda Williams

Jobs

There is a lot of attention being paid to our increasingly diverse workplace. There are all types of differences including race, gender, generations and thinking styles, just to name a few. LTAW’s focus this month is on some of the key diversity dimensions and how to navigate them for greater productivity and engagement.
 
 
It’s a new day for baby boomers who might have had visions of planning for retirement rather than honing job skills. But the cruel reality is that many baby boomers will find themselves working well into their 60’s and even 70’s! And many will be in the job market looking for new opportunities as the economic downturn took its toll on this population group.  Decades of work experience is not necessarily an advantage in this tight market.

So how can you seem like the best bet in a sea of young talent?

  • Remember a layoff doesn’t mean time off. It can seem tempting to relax after a layoff. After all, you’ve been working for quite a while. But in today’s market, taking a month or two off can mean missing great opportunities. It also can create a less-than-attractive gap on your resume.
  • Network. This is a tip that’s given to everyone, but you have the advantage of probably having worked with more people than the average 30-something. And you don’t just have to contact people you’ve talked to recently, or even focus solely on professional acquaintances. Use this opportunity to reconnect with people you’ve long lost touch with, both personally and professionally.
  • Focus on what you’ve done recently. You don’t have to make your resume into your life story. Highlight what you’ve done over the past five to 10 years. And if you’ve got a skill that could use sharpening or advancing, get on it.
  • Get ready for you interview. If you’ve been working for the same company for a long time, you also might not have been on an interview in a while. Sharpen your skills by getting in some practice with a qualified friend or family member. And once you’re in there with the hiring manager, remember to put your freshest face forward – come in with an enthusiastic state of mind, a respectful attitude (even if you’re interview with someone young enough to be your child) and an open mind.

It’s never fun to be on the job market, but a new position can mean new opportunities. And there’s never a bad time for a new start.

Value differences! Live inclusively!

Sources: Forbes.com (12) and dummies.com