Does 25 years of experience trump 8 years + talent?

For any Boomers that populate this blog, I’ll apologize in advance.  This is not directed at all of  you, just the ones that like to think that they’ve earned the right to be above everyone else.  I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing people that cover every generation currently in the workplace.  But greatness is not a generic trait of any given person regardless of generation.  It just happens that right now most of the posts are Boomers granting their advice to Gen Y.


Today there was one of those just really bad posts over on everyone’s favorite business site, LinkedIn.  It’s painted as 5 tips for Millenials to work better with Boomers. But in reality this is a portrait of a Boomer terrified that a new generation is coming up and going to force her out for not having the same skills.

1. Do it Their Way Before you fix it.

This one is just wrong.  If you don’t know what you are doing, then absolutely seek assistance.  But if you are on the 15th time running the same project again you should feel free to run it your way.  Similarly, if the task is unimportant enough to completely hand off to someone new without a process then that person should be able to take it and own it their way.  You aren’t hiring robots, you are hiring someone with enough skills and talent that you felt it was reasonable to give them the task in the first place.

2. Ask for the unsaid specifics.

This isn’t a Boomer thing, this is bad management regardless of the generation.  If you aren’t capable of giving clear direction then what are you doing giving direction at all?  This one just paints Boomers wrong in a way that is unfair.

3. “Draft” doesn’t actually mean “Draft.”

Again, this isn’t a Boomer thing, this is more bad management regardless of the generation.  This article is positioned as advice from a Boomer but should probably be reframed as “5 Tips for Dealing with a Manager Promoted Beyond their Abilities.”

4. A little old style respect goes a long way.

Let’s pause here because this is where the article just veers rapidly into the ditch.  It would have been far more accurate to phrase this particular “tip” as “You should be seen but not heard.”  Apparently Gen Y is now the children in the room.  We need to stay out of grown-up conversations that we aren’t ready for because otherwise we’ll embarrass our wiser and more experienced managers.  The only way you should provide your input is through the standing, procedural hierarchy (which given the above tips is probably incompetent and unworthy of managing).

And finally:

5. Find a Boomer mentor

If the above “tips” don’t get you to act right, well, let’s make sure you have some extra adult supervision so that you don’t put your foot out of line.  Also, you’ll need this person to “advocate” for you because the only way to get a promotion is through being recognized by a superior (re: experienced Boomer).  Your work product is not a good way to stand out and move up the ladder – that’s just showing off and making everyone else look bad.

Look – I get that generations are different and 30 years from now bad managers from my generation are going to be writing these EXACT same articles all over again.  The problem for me is that these articles and posts are given far too much credence and respect.

Each of us are unique and we should probably not make overly broad generalizations about generations just so that we can prop up our current positions.  Because honestly, posts like the one mentioned here only serve to make the author look bad and nothing else.



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