I am a Baby Boomer, born in 1948. The civil rights movement and the Vietnam War were pivotal influences in my younger years. I value interpersonal skills and believe in actual phone calls and letters. My life has centered on ministry as a priest and as a hospice care provider.
Last year I turned 72 and decided it was time for me to “re-wire,” not retire; and I have been grateful for my new three-day-a-week position as Mission & Stewardship officer in the development department. Our development department is a wonderful blend of Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and the new Generation X.
Our fundraising consultant, Kelly Wesley Taylor of Trek Advancement and I had the opportunity to do a presentation at several conferences: “When Boomer Bosses Meet the Millennial Mindset.”
The Millennial Generation born between 1980-2000 is the first generation to reach adulthood in the new millennium. Technology is a major factor in shaping this generation and the workplace. The Millennials have just surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest generation. Millennials are looking for greater meaning and impact in their work, more vacation time, greater work flexibility and casual dress requirements.
One of the outcries in the workplace these days is each generation saying how hard it is to work and understand other generations. In my working with millennials particularly I have learned that you can fight it, flight it, finesse it, befriend it or embrace the reality.
My cohort Kelly has said it well: “Young people know things change; older people know things that don’t.” I believe that change is both evolutionary and revolutionary and there are elements of both happening in our society and workplace today. There is always the evolution of the ages. I did it growing up with my traditional parents. And the Millennials are revolutionary like we boomers were in the ’60s with our parents. Bob Dylan’s song, The Times Are A-Changing, is as true now today as when he wrote it.
Our job as Baby Boomers is to teach Millennials that the importance of trust and authentic relationships does not change. Wanting to influence positive social change, a Millennial with an empowering Boomer boss will increase overall performance of an operation. Rewarding Millennials by results with relationships rather than the number of hours worked and how and when to do their work is also critical to success. Millennials are most successful when given clear performance targets and are provided regular and structured feedback.
We, as Baby Boomers, must pass it on. Our future is now. We Boomers can deliver the Millennials and all generations a great service. Not to do so is a disservice to our organization.
Some quotes that motivate me as a Baby Boomer to pass it on are:
- “You can’t change the winds, but you can reset your sails.”
- “If you’re green you grow, if you’re ripe you rot.”
- “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.”
- “You will discover you have two hands. One is for helping yourself and the other is for helping others.” (Audrey Hepburn)
- “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.” (Albert Schweitzer)
By Bob Mueller