My chops for penning this blog are that I am both a baby boomer and an employer. The social media biosphere is replete with (mostly) well-intentioned advice for what millennials need to do to excel in the workplace. These “rules” are usually handed down by older people who are well-established in their careers and hold positions of power and authority–in short–by baby boomers, who constitute a large majority of today’s professional power brokers, successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, etc.
Boomers are notoriously work-centric, goal-oriented, self-reliant, and competitive. Too often they find millennials self-absorbed, lazy, entitled, and narcissistic. Is it any wonder that the two generations might butt heads in the office? I think not–and that’s assuming a millennial can win a job from a boomer hiring manager in the first place.
Fortunately, stereotypes don’t seek employment or hire job candidates—people do, and there are plenty of people on both sides of the generational divide that don’t fit the stereotypical mold.
Case in point, my four millennial colleagues at MCM. Their life experiences are starkly different from mine. Why wouldn’t they be? They were born in a different time and came of age under different circumstances. Consequently, they think, work, problem-solve, innovate, and communicate in ways that I do not. Their methods are different than mine, but in other ways, not so much.
For example, my millennial workmates paid a lot of dues working their way through college, bussing tables, tending bar, and other low-paying services jobs. They sacrificed and learned how to work hard. They are whip smart, competitive, and want to win both individually and as part of a team. They are coachable and eagerly adopt constructive feedback. They value community service and take philanthropy seriously. Above all they want to be respected and given meaningful opportunities to show what they can do.
This approach is paying off big at MCM. We have millennials in essential, career track positions with mission-critical responsibilities. Make no mistake, they occupy seats at the grown-up’s table and we expect a lot of them in return. Their innovative ways expand the potential of our company. Their problem solving skills add important new tools to our professional toolkit. They don’t much care about facetime or sucking up to the boss, but they show up early and stay late when they need to, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they represent.
At the end of the day, baby boomers and millennials are stronger together than either one is alone and companies that recognize this will enjoy a distinct advantage over those that don’t.