The world of business is in the early stages of a power transfer from the Baby Boomers to the Millennials (also known as Generation Y). As always, when a younger generation begins to exert power over an older one, there is discomfort and tension on both sides. Millennials need to take the reins with a firm but gentle grip after reading the following observations.
1. We Need Each Other: The Baby Boomers had it easy. When they moved into management positions, most of their predecessors retired at age 65. Now life expectancies have risen over the last few decades, and economic conditions have deteriorated. As a result either by choice or necessity, Baby Boomers are staying in the workforce well past the traditional retirement age. Whereas young managing old was a short-term novelty for Baby Boomers, it’s going to be a long-term business skill for Millennials. The Millennials are going to have to deal with the Baby Boomers for another 10 or 20 years. Baby Boomers are counting on Millennials to come up with ideas to make the economy grow, and to be courageous leaders.
2. Baby Boomers are Digital Immigrants: Millennials grew up in a digital world, Boomers had to adapt to technology much later in life. The dynamic between digital natives and digital immigrants is very much like the one our parents’ generation experienced in the 1930s and ‘40s immigrants, mainly from Europe, didn’t speak the language. They didn’t know how to do things, were socially awkward, and appeared slow on the uptake. That’s the way Baby Boomers come off to Millennials when they use digital technologies.
There’s another dimension to this with serious business implications. Millennials are terrific at gathering information but at analyzing it or at thinking it through. Baby Boomers came from a time when research meant 10 hours of pouring over books rather than 10 minutes skimming through Google searches. The challenge and the opportunity for Millennials is figuring out how to leverage the Baby Boomers analytical skills and maximize business results.
3. Baby Boomers are not all the Same: Stereotyping is always dangerous, but with Baby Boomers, it simply can’t be done – their life experiences are fundamentally different.
If you have an existing business or are planning a new business, the Pasco-Hernando Chapter of SCORE is here to help. We offer free small business mentoring and free small business seminars throughout the year at local libraries in Pasco and Hernando. Visit our website www.score439.org for the seminar schedule and to request mentoring.