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These Millennials are Driving Me Nuts! Why are Boomers such Control Freaks?

According to Gallup, about a third of today's workforce comes from the 75 million-strong Baby Boomer generation. The oldest have now turned 70 and the youngest are in their early 50s. More than 40 million of them are still working as 75% of the workforce transitions to Millennials and GenZ in the next 8 years. This is massive upheaval!

How many of you been in a very, very important conversation with someone of a different generation and you walked away from it knowing that they had ABSOLUTELY! NO! IDEA! what you were talking about?

So then what?!? You got out your pen and paper and wrote them a cursive! Let's be clear, Millennials can't read cursive.

Or you sent them an email which remains unopened to this day? Yeah, they don't like that either.

And then they sent you a text which was so frustrating because it wasn't grammatically correct and half the vowels were missing. Hello, there's this thing we've heard about called spell check, take some pride! And then it took you two weeks to get the little envelope off your phone! Exhausting!

This was a story I recently heard told by Jason Dorsey at the Center of Generational Kinetics. I found it funny and while a bit overdramatic, it does highlight some of the common preconceived notions we may have when we think about different generations and their communication preferences. Given that we have at least four generations in the workforce, Jason went on to say that workplaces are "going to be a challenge...but there is also an unprecedented, once in a generation opportunity depending entirely on how we choose to adapt" together.

The interactions, decisions, communication styles, motivations and a whole host of other factors are what create generational autocompletes in our own search engines, things like:

  • Boomers: "Radical Long Hairs" or "Committed" workers

  • GenXers: "Cynical Slackers" or "Revenue Generators"

  • Millennials: "Entitled" or "Socially Responsible" Global Citizens

  • GenZ: "Head Down Tech Reliant Kids" or "Entrepreneurial Genius"

While there are aspects of truth in each of these generalizations, we tend to let labels define and box each other into categories only furthering our frustrations with each other. When we talk about resolving conflict and improving communication, it's not just a generational topic. However, as shared above, the fast-paced organization transformation is or will create major havoc within your organizations and as leaders we must tackle it head-on.

Take a few minutes to review the table below. While it is compiled from studies on the US workforce, much applies globally. See where you fit. Are you neatly in the column of your birth range? Think about what significant events or game changers affected how you view and act within the workplace. Question whether what you believe is "social myth" versus "workplace reality". When looking at the workplace spectrums, where do you fit and why? And for those of you outside of the US, see what aligns and doesn't for your country and culture.

​ Now, it's time for you to react.

Click on the blog comments section and let me know your observations.

Over the course of the next few blogs, I will dissect the common generational myths, where they come from, and ask key questions to help you take action both individually and corporately. My goal is to help you adapt and inspire you with tools that transform organizations and companies equipped to survive the greatest workforce transition challenges we will face.

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