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August 15, 2020

Baby Boomers vs Millennials at Work

Conflicts among team members are not unusual. Deadlines, scarce resources, differing work styles all contribute to disagreements and clashes. There’s another source of conflict—between generations! In this post, let’s look at Baby Boomer and Millennial conflicts.

Baby Boomers live to work. Boomers entered the workforce at a time when careers followed fairly straight lines from entry-level to executive-level positions like a ladder. For Boomers, company loyalty—while waning—is still important, and people who jump from job to job are looked at with suspicion. This generation believes that you have to put in the time to get ahead and earn rewards. Developing and nurturing personal relationships and understanding office politics are key strategies for Boomers.

Millennials, on the other hand, work to live and have a lifestyle. Keep in mind, Millennials will likely live to be 100 years old. They find nothing wrong with jumping from company to company and taking time out from working for a six-month trek to Asia. For this generation, career is not a ladder; it’s a lattice. Work relationships are mostly virtual, and everyone from the janitor to the CEO is an equal. They grew up on teams where everyone was a winner, and they expect to win all the time. 

Can you see where conflicts might arise?

So what can you do?

Build a culture of inclusion where all generations understand and value their differences. Bring your Boomers and Millennials together and encourage your Boomers to mentor the Millennials, who often have little experience or understanding of the workplace. 

Need more help? See my blog post How Each Generation Views Leadership and check out my class Leading Multi-generation Teams.

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