In Spike Lee’s 1989 acclaimed movie “Do the Right Thing,” he places the characters at the center of making difficult decisions. It’s a classic drama—and a perfect way to continue our generational discussions!
During the hottest day of the summer, life forever changes at Sal’s pizzeria in Brooklyn. Two customers demand that Sal change his “Wall of Fame.” The confrontation heats up to racial slurs and physical threats. Violence erupts! Da Mayor, a street bum, encourages the mob to make good decisions.
However, Mookie (Spike Lee) opts to follow his emotions; it changed the dynamics of the situation. The 1980’s movie classic highlights the racial tension between two ethic groups. In the movie, Da Mayor provides Mookie with some advice: “Doctor, always do the right things.” Given another chance, Mookie might have changed his actions. Unfortunately, too many managers won’t.
Are today’s managers willing to make the best decision so that future managers are primed for success, not defeat? It’s an interesting thought when you consider the possible generational volcano that may erupt at any time.
Several years ago, I read Daniel Kadlec’s column about the Baby Boomer transformation from being a “Me Generation” to a “We Generation.” Although I applauded Kadlec’s insight, I was hesitant to make this great leap of faith in the Baby Boomers yet. Let me say that this belief should not be conceived as ‘hating.’ I am Gen X as you might not know. I have used environmental scanning to witness the significant demographic shifts in our nation. Are Baby Boomers now ready to relinquish their stronghold of leadership?
We can’t be certain due to that fact that the storyline is incomplete. Let’s wait until the economy settles. With the rocky rollercoaster ride of the stock market, Baby Boomers don’t enjoy life as much because of the decrease in their disposable income. Some individuals have the extra burden of caring for parents and children. These realities of life keep Baby Boomers working well beyond their desires for retirement.
In the past, Baby Boomers have been early trend setters. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College explains that the average retirement age in the U.S. is 63. Unfortunately, this retirement study reveals that many individuals will need to work longer so that they will have adequate retirement reserves.
Andy Hines, the director of Customer Projects at Social Technologies, predicts that Baby Boomers will refine the meaning of retirement and notes, “U.S. Baby Boomers are choosing post-work lifestyles that don’t resemble the stereotype of the quaint, restful senior citizen.” As you know, Baby Boomers are the top leaders of most organizations and will find it difficult to separate themselves from their positions of power and influence. Will they be willing to make the right decisions for their successors or themselves?
Other observers believe that Baby Boomers will leave graciously and pass the baton to the next generation of leaders. I have my own doubts about the outcome.
If Baby Boomers extend their stay in organizations and maintain their leadership positions, what do you predict the response of leaders in waiting? How can organizations address this issue without inflaming Baby Boomer leadership and not losing future leaders who refuse to wait?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green
33 thoughts on “Doing Me Right, Boomer”
The situation of a multi-generational managerial staff should be seen as an opportunity. Newly educated professionals have the ability to learn from those in their field with years of experience. Multiple generations working cooperatively allow for varied perspectives. Traditional career education accomplished through apprenticeship in combination with the modern approach of formal education will allow upcoming managers to reach superior levels of knowledge than in previous times. Businesses should be aware and embrace this opportunity to build their leadership force with the best of both worlds by organizing their management infrastructure that includes positions for both senior and junior positions where possible. “Inclusion is the key to performance management success, and today’s leading organizations are crafting performance management strategies to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce and keep all workers engaged, productive and happy long after their first day on the job,” (Heiden).
Baby boomers hold the experience that generations X and Y do not yet possess and this is not a small asset. Upcoming managers of younger generations need an outlet to apply their newly learned concepts to contribute toward their organization. This is possible under, or in conjunction with baby boomer managers. Future leaders that refuse to wait should not be a concern to organizations because clearly their motives are personal and not within the best intentions for the organization.
Heiden, Shelly. “Build a Multigenerational Performance Strategy.” Performance Management, 2008. http://www.talentmgt.com/performance_management/2008/February/540/index.php
Chelsea, good points!
But, how to you teach patience to ‘grown folks?’
I don’t intend to “leave graciously” when I’m ready to retire! My parents retirement isn’t what I intend to do. Work is what I know. It might take a different form than what I do now but many Boomers I still have a great deal to offer. We are a different breed than those who have gone before us.
I appreciate your insight as a Baby Boomer! Interesting! What do you think is the proper exit strategy then since you have impatient leaders in waiting? This question relates to how organizations going to balance the needs of this complex, multi-generational workforce.
I really don’t believe the Baby Boomer Generation will think too much about graciously passing the baton off to Generation X. The Baby Boomers had a better life than any generation of American up until that time; including more financial and educational opportunities. According to Francis Beckett in the Jan 8th, 2010 issue of New Statesman magazine, “The Baby Boomers had everything- education, healthcare, remarkable liberties- but they squandered it all. Now their children are paying for it.” The WWII generation grew up during the depression, suffered a great deal, and went to great lengths to see that their children (the Baby Boomers) would never have to experience that type hard life. This, I believe, gave birth to the original sense of entitlement that has pervaded American Society today. It has been my experience that most Baby Boomers look at Generation X with a degree of distrust which does not help for smooth operation in the workplace. A smooth transition in management between these two very different generations seems unlikely to me.
Generational gaps have existed in organizations for centuries. However, today we see managers and other leaders of corporations staying comfortably in positions for years past the traditional retirement age. This could be the result of many factors. Obviously the economic climate we exist in today has had a strong negative impact on retirement coffers and many Baby Boomers simply don’t believe they can afford to retire. Alternatively, many behaviorists claim that there are characteristics of this generation that prevent them from retiring because they feel threatened by the concept of retirement and avoid it as much as possible. Regardless, modern companies must employ certain safeguards to avoid the unavoidable conflict that will arise between these aging leaders and the emerging young workforce.
A recent article in Human Relations Today suggests that Human Resources Managers can play a major role in this conflict. These managers need to continuously monitor emerging talent within the organization so that such employees are not overlooked due to the “glass ceiling” installed as a result of these Baby Boomers not retiring. An intense knowledge of this talent pool must be obtained so that these employees can be leveraged appropriately for future assignments. This will ensure and promote employee retention and also provide check and balances among the ranks of the work force.
Jenkins, Jim. (2008) Strategies for managing talent in the multigenerational workforce. Employment Relations Today. 34 (4), 19-26
I think our generation of “millennials” has grown up with such a great deal of praise and guidance that we will be too impatient to wait on the baby boomers to retire. Though we will be faced with a change in lifestyle and approach to work, I feel that we think too much about the future to sit around and wait for change happen. We do seek leadership, and according to Epstein, “They (millennials) are very comfortable in an established, articulated hierarchy where they know exactly what the rules are, as well as the steps required for success.”I think the friction that may develop between baby-boomers resisting change and our eager generation will cause the millennials to create new opportunities. This might come in the form of new/competing businesses and/or new positions arising due to evolving needs of a business. I think one method of reconciliation could utilize the concept of the apprentice with the experienced baby-boomers guiding the leaders to be (milleninals). This would hopefully lead to delegation of leadership roles, allowing both generations to split responsibility. This would also allow the millennials to understand the roles that they will (at some point) be able to take over.
Knowledge@Emory. Is Your Firm Ready for the Millennials? Knowledge@Emory – Leadership and Change. Mar. 8, 2006. http://knowledge.emory.edu/article.cfm?articleid=950.
Addressing the desires of both the Baby Boomers and future leaders requires a delicate balance for today’s managers. One must recognize that the current leaders still maintain a critical role within an organizations success but also it is important to realize the need to groom and retain future leaders for prosperity down the road. In an article from Development Dimensions International, authors Kate Whitmore (Gen X) and Jim Concelman (Boomer) provide a number of suggestions to maintain this balance. For instance, they suggest placing Boomers in advisory roles on projects to allow them to add their input from experience while learning from younger generations. However, I think two of the best suggestions provided are public recognition of the importance of the Boomers as well as establishing teamwork and collaboration with individual accountability. Interestingly, the authors, both of different generations, provide the reader with an excellent example of using this type of collaboration. Today, we have numerous examples utilizing similar techniques. In college football, the implementation of the Head Coach in Waiting provides an excellent example. In this way, the current head coach maintains the advisory role and the public spotlight while the emerging coaches are maintained for the future.
Concelman, Jim and Whitmore, Kate. Engaging the Four Generations of Workers: A Leader’s Guide to Baby Boomers. Developmental Dimensions International, Inc.: http://www.ddiworld.com
With each new generation, the trend appears to be that each is more technologically advanced and eager to move up the business ladder than the generation that precedes it. Based on general knowledge and case studies I have read like, Young and Impatient in India, the new generation of workers will not stay at jobs where they are made to wait for employment advancement and other opportunities. These “leaders in waiting” will get restless with management and may even start to resent the Baby Boomers for keeping job opportunities from them. This can cause unpleasant working environments and a high employment turnover rate. So how do organizations solve this problem?
A mentor program, which stresses people skills and business management, can help the new generation of eager managers to understand the values and environment that are a part of the Baby Boomer generation. Current managers can use this program as a teaching experience to ready the new managers so when their time comes they are able to move up to positions with the knowledge they will need. This also builds a trust between the two generations so the Baby Boomers can gradually give them more responsibility. Organizations can implement programs that teach the waiting leaders different skills they will need when they are managers. Organizations can give young leaders positions on committees involved in company decisions Companies also need a “retention program in place for both younger and older generations so they can keep the expertise in house and have future leaders.” The organization leaders need to understand how to promote incentives that appeal to young potential leaders. In one authors opinion “the more perks you can give people to stay with you, the stronger the company will be in the future.”
Houlihan, Anne. “When Gen X is in Charge: How to Harness the Younger Leadership Style.” Security: Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders; Apr2008, Vol. 45 Issue 4, p42-43, 2p.
Jones, Gareth R. & George, Jennifer M. Contemporary Management. McGraw-Hill Irwin. New York, 2009.
Since half of the population will be comprised of minority groups in 40 years, the word minority may become nonexistent in the future. It is important to remember that the rising population of minority groups is growing all over the US and not only affecting large cities. It is becoming apparent that with this demographic increase of minorities, there will be impacts. One example of a change being made is in the state of Indiana which is experiencing a large growth in its Spanish population. To accommodate this growth, Indiana is distributing various types of information in English and Spanish. There will be a need for new jobs, more transportation, more education and changes in infrastructures. Since growing numbers of minorities will work and receive an education in the US, we will most likely begin to see minorities in corporate positions and minority owned firms.
To turn these demographical changes into opportunities, physicians need to embrace the different cultures and increase their awareness toward differences other cultures may value in healthcare. Doctors will need to be more educated on how to treat different minorities in a healthcare setting to make them comfortable and respect their beliefs.
Dunn, William. Nation’s Business, Jul92, Vol. 80 Issue 7, p39
Hagel III, John; Brown, John Seely; Davison, Lang. Harvard Business Review, Jul/Aug2009, Vol. 87 Issue 7/8, p86-89.
This is the right post! 🙂
Based on general knowledge and case studies I have read, new generation of workers will not stay at jobs where they are made to wait for employment advancement and other opportunities. These “leaders in waiting” will get restless with management and may even start to resent the Baby Boomers for keeping job opportunities from them. This can cause unpleasant working environments and high employment turnover.
A mentor program, which stresses people skills and business management, can help the new generation of managers understand the values and environment that are a part of the Baby Boomer generation. Current managers can use this program as a teaching experience to ready the new managers so when their time comes they are able to move up to positions with the knowledge they need. This also builds a trust between the two generations so the Baby Boomers can gradually give them more responsibility. Organizations can give young leaders positions on committees involved in company decisions. The organization leaders need to understand how to promote incentives that appeal to young potential leaders. In one authors opinion “the more perks you can give people to stay with you, the stronger the company will be in the future.”
Houlihan, Anne. “When Gen X is in Charge: How to Harness the Younger Leadership Style.” Security: Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders; Apr2008, Vol. 45 Issue 4, p42-43, 2p.
Jones, Gareth R. & George, Jennifer M. Contemporary Management. McGraw-Hill Irwin. New York, 2009.
In her presentation on baby boomers, Karen McCullough states that “we got our identity from praise and we got our praise from work” when referring to the baby boomer generation 1. This is highly telling of the general mindset of the boomer generation regarding work. We are poised to witness a dramatic shift in the workplace because many boomers feel compelled to forego their retirement due to financial constraints.
I think that this fact coupled with the workaholic nature of the generation provides fuel for a brewing contentious generational conflict over leadership role. Generation X may feel sandwiched between a boomer population that does not seem to be willing to relinquish their leadership and a self-centered generation Y that wants to have it all and have it now.
Companies can address this looming issue by setting up an intergenerational dialogue that recognizes the importance of the experience and seniority of the boomer while at the same acknowledging the necessity of preparing the newer generations to take over. Incentivizing the boomers to help train the newer generation should also be considered in this case. This can be in the form of retirement packages coupled to requirements that they train their replacements.
1-McCullough, Karen. keynote on the four generations in the workplace. Houston, TX. 2007.
Outstanding thread! Get deeper on the ‘why.’
With all the excellent comments on this post, I feel privileged to call the authors colleagues. I would like to expand upon Ms. Diallo’s comment on the inevitable dissonance created by the persistence of the Baby Boomers in the workplace, the impatience and narcissism of Generation Y, and Generation X, who fear being skipped in the passing of the proverbial baton. This is a real threat and I have seen the disruptive effects it can have first hand. A simple technique that a company can utilize as a temporary solution, or even build into a permanent solution, is allowing members of each “generation” some leadership roles and responsibilities. The members from the respective generations should be chosen on merit alone and afford the senior member in the company, here, the “baby boomer,” the responsibility of overseeing operations. Committees that consist of members of each generation and encourage everyone’s participation is also a way to make all generations feel empowered. The majority of people will be more satisfied if they feel like they are in control of something and are important in the company. Moreover, making the committee positions based on merit also, may increase efficiency within the company.
A TalentSmart research study on emotional intelligence (EQ) found a huge gap between the Baby Boomer generation and the Millennials in regards to self-management. They report that Baby Boomers are better equipped to deal emotionally with things not always going their way. Furthermore, because Baby Boomers outnumber the next generation of leaders-in-waiting (Gen X) almost two to one, replacement of these Boomers will also depend on the rapidly-increasing “millennials.” Thus, it becomes less automatic that those in generation X will succeed the Baby Boomers because of increased competition.
Like Kathryn suggested, merit-based positions would allow for “equal-opportunity” between the Baby Boomer, X, and millennial generations. In fact, this is one of Weber’s principles of bureaucracy as discussed in our textbook. Additionally, Baby Boomers mentoring to the younger generations is a possibility, as their experience and lessons learned from years at that organization are undoubtedly valuable assets that should not be lost solely because of retirement. Another option to consider would be recruiting Baby Boomers to fulfill consulting roles upon retirement. These positions would be PRN and while not likely during today’s tough economy, could ease retirement for a generation that considers work to be an indefinite mainstay in their lives.
1. “The Leadership Vacuum: What We Lose with the Next Generation.” Nick Tasler. Accessed Jul 5, 2010. http://www.graphic-design.com/news/2009/leadership_vacuum.html
The Baby Boomer population has drastically increased in the workforce due to a variety of reasons such as dwindling personal retirement funds, poor economy, or better overall health and the response of the leaders in waiting is not favorable. Their morale is destined to continuously decline into the future unless their capabilities are channeled into productivity on a higher level. We as a society have been locked into a way of thinking for so long about such things as appropriate times to retire, etc. that this limbo stage as the baby boomers reach retirement age will be a hard lesson in patience for all concerned, especially those upcoming leaders who have been waiting in the wings for these still filled leadership positions.
Baby Boomers, on the other hand, feel entitled to their positions as some have held them for a long time and all worked hard to get there. Unfortunately, some organizations, especially larger ones in this still struggling economy cannot afford to become top heavy in leadership. However, the young leaders have great energy that needs to be funneled in a positive manner while they wait to ensure positive growth.
Some younger workers may feel uncomfortable working with older workers, and the dynamics of a younger boss and older subordinate is likely uncomfortable for many. But these younger workers have new and refreshing energy that should be used for leadership when the time is right, even if this means closing in on an older employee’s seat at the top of the food chain. Social compatibility plays a role in generating cooperation and camaraderie. Such prejudices need to be overcome.
According to Langbert, relatively few firms have been planning for an older workforce and even fewer MBA programs have been addressing the issue. Interestingly, smaller firms have been better at integrating the shift between older and younger workers than larger firms have. However, this problem so long ignored is now staring many corporations in the face. What do we do with the Boomers? I have heard this question asked my entire life and still it seems that nobody has any good answers on any level.
Langbert, Mitchell. “The Aging Workforce and Retiring Baby Boomer Population.” AICPA Publications, CPE, Conferences and Webcasts. Nov. 2009. Web. 30 June 2010. <http://www.cpa2biz.com/Content/media/PRODUCER_CONTENT/Newsletters/Articles_2009/Careers/AgingWokforce
Brandon, Emily. "Baby Boomers Are Changing Their Retirement Plans – Planning to Retire (usnews.com)." Business News and Financial News – US News Business. Mar. 2009. Web. 29 June 2010. .
The new generation of workers wants gratification, right now. They come out of schooling, wanting a good paying job and recognition for that job. I predict the leaders in waiting will wait because they have to, but they won’t wait gracefully. I predict they won’t be happy about the wait because they want immediate success.
There is a difference in the workplace habits of the new generation employees and the baby boomer. The new generation tends to be more independent, self-motivated, and self-sufficient. The baby boomers tend to be more diligent and prefer a stable work environment.
These two generations need to work together. The baby boomer generation needs to help lead the new generation into the leadership roles. They can ‘train’ the new generation in the leadership roles so that when they do leave, they will know how to do the job. The baby boomers can also work to influence the baby boomer generation and have some of their leadership styles placed into the workplace.
Yu, H. & Miller, P. (2005). Leadership Style- The X Generation and Baby Boomers compared in different cultural contexts. Graduate College of Management, Southern Cross University. Retrieved from http://epubs.scu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent. cgi?article=1022&context=gcm_pubs
It is expected that the baby boomers will be working longer than previously expected due to downturns of the stock market and fallen home values. These economically uncertain times have created hardships for many people. The age group hardest hit is the one closest to retirement age, which has less time to work to make up the losses. (Keene) They may work a little longer, but will usually have physical limitations that prevent extremely elongated work years. Organizations may benefit from splitting the management duties and salaries, for instance have two part time managers versus one full time. This would allow for the new manager to have more extensive training and a resource to consult with the difficult decisions. Another alternative would be to create intermediate positions for the upcoming leadership employees to “buy” a few years of their retention before the boomers retire.
1. Baby Boomers May Work Longer to Retire, Harris Says: by Tom Keene
Business week April 28, 2010, 12:54 PM EDT
The generational wars that exist in the workplace today are nothing new . However, the tension has increased with the entrance of Gen-Y and the longevity of the Baby Boomers. Add in the impatience of Gen-X and you have a workplace that is full of generational tension. Managers must find a way to help ease the tension between these generations and help them coexist in the workplace. Deborah Gilburg recommends that one of the biggest problems in this conflict is that the policies within the organization do incorporate all generations. The values of Gen-X, Gen-Y, and the Baby Boomers are very different and are all are not reflected in the policies of the company. She says that one way in which companies have helped remedy this problem is develop an emerging leader organization which let Gen-X and Gen-Y that they will be promoted, but do not provide a time frame that puts pressure on Baby Boomers. By catering to the values in each generation, managers can help ease workplace hostility and promote adhesiveness between generations.
Gilburg, Deborah. Generation X: Stepping Up to the Leadership Plate. 31 Jan. 2007. CIO. 5 July 2010
With baby boomers staying in their offices and delaying retirement longer than expected means that the younger workforce that is hungry for advancement. Young professionals will quickly grow discontent working for people old enough to be their parents who they consider “old school”. To prevent this view it is important for companies to ask for input from the young professionals and to give them assignments that develop their executive potential. I consider us the over educated generation because it no longer means anything to have a college degree. Many young folks are putting their post-college education above their years of experience. Organizations must be prepared to do on the job training for their up and coming management professionals. Fidelity investments established three main aspects of their leadership development as 1. Executive Coaching- where participants work with an executive coach for a year. 2. Peer-Group work where participants are placed with other high potential participants and asked to run potential projects. 3. Action-learning project teams where employees are given an actual business problem that is important to their organization. For a company training younger employees themselves means that they will have better executives when the baby boomers do retire.
Field, A. (2007). When the Boomers Leave, Will Your Company Have the Leaders It Needs? Havard Management Update , 3-7.
With a new crop of Echo Baby Boomers on the horizon for top leadership positions, we will be forced to wait until Baby Boomers retire, or are no longer capable of meeting the ever changing demands of successful management. Baby Boomers have a deeper since of work ethic than do Millennials, which also plays a role in their hesitancy to relinquish top management positions. This, coupled with the impatient Millennials, makes me predict that the Millennial Generation will seek alternate routes to employment in fields that are high paying with high promotion potential. For instance, by accepting an Armed Forces scholarship in medical school, you will enter the armed forces as a physician and high ranking officer, not having to start from the bottom.
Organizations can address this issue by providing pensions to Baby Boomers who are willing to work and lend their expertise to a field past a certain age. This may seem like it will keep more Baby Boomers working, but in fact will be a win-win situation. Baby Boomers still get to retire with retirement funds, and young leaders are given hope and reassurance that top leadership positions will one day become available to be taken over by Millennials.
Greene, Kelly. “Baby Boomers Delay Retirement”. The Wall Street Journal. September 22, 2008. pp. A4
Baby Boomers are, without a doubt, a valuable asset to corporations. Their professional knowledge accumulated through decades of experience is priceless for organizations. However, emerging leaders need to know that there exists an opportunity to climb the ladder of command. Corporate America can severely dampen the productivity of these energetic and innovative emerging leaders if they decide to reserve the ruling stick for the mature Baby Boomers indefinitely.
Interestingly, some corporations are actively seeking to retain or rehire their soon to retire or retired workforce. In accordance to CNN news, “more companies are looking to keep older workers by investing in training programs and flexible work schedules, and offering to hire retiring employees on a consultant basis.” This news should come as a surprise. Organizations can solve this battle for intangible resources by creating new positions for their wise Baby Boomers where they can pass on their knowledge to their successive leaders without perceiving this change as a demotion. Moreover, as the CNN article states, Baby Boomers can also be employed on a par-time basis or as consultants thereby benefiting the company with their brain power while leaving the high chairs for the competing leaders.
Pasha, Shaheen. “Corporations woo baby boomers.” , 30 Sep 2005.CNNMoney.com. 10 Jul 2010.
While some may welcome the strong leaders remaining, others may resent the senior citizens holding onto our promotional spots. Howard Smead says that Boomers are the “most egocentric generation in the history of mankind.” They are 76 million strong and have reshaped business in America, possibly creating the workaholic ideology. Some fear is a great change in business environment and direction if leadership does shift, which translates into Boomer’s “disappointment because X’ers aren’t sharing their vision.”
To avoid this resentment in changing of the guards, more emphasis must be put into transition. Regardless of whether or not your successor is your younger self, the company is doomed if it loses a competitive edge because of poor shifts in control. Deborah Gilburg suggests leaders “run focus groups with younger Boomers, X’ers, and Millennials to determine what knowledge, skills, and support they need to take the helm in the coming years.”
Gilburg, Deborah. “Baby Boomer Exit Creates Leadership Gap.” Oracle and Sun. Web. 13 July 2010. .
Generally those who are waiting for leadership positions will resent it. The way for organization to take care of this issue, if they want to retain the baby boomer generation, then they should retain them as consultants for the company so that the new leadership can benefit from there experiences whereas taking the responsibility solely on themselves. The baby boomers will lose the authority or command however they will enjoy working part-time and still have a say in the company’s future. The boomer’s can still be a part of the mix without having to let go of their life in the company. They might not like this idea initially but overall it would be the best for everyone if this were to happen. The new generation will benefit from this decision tremendously because they will acquire the experience from the older generation and capitalize on their mistakes. Consulting is a career of its own and can be very promising to those seeking to work past retirement.
Due to the recent economic downturn, it is safe to say that the average age of retirement will increase, and that some current retirees will have to go back into the workforce to continue living their current lifestyle. With this said, it is going to be crucial for the Baby Boomers, future leaders, and the associated organizations to view this as an opportunity, not a threat or hurdle to overcome. In an article entitled “Are Retiring Baby Boomers Worth Keeping,” Scott Cranford claims that “Companies looking at this change to the workforce as an opportunity to retain, recruit, and further develop their human capital for the future will be far more successful than companies that view this as an insurmountable challenge.” These future leaders must realize that their organization, although keeping older workers, are looking into the future in the decisions that they make. Assuming the organization is managed properly, less income now should result in much more income and promotional options in the future. After all, if they do not have trust in the company in which they work for currently, is that really the company they would want to work for and be a “leader” in the future?
Cranford, Scott. “Are Retiring Baby Boomers Worth Keeping.” February 2009. http://www.northhighland.com
As I look at my father and my father-in-law, both of the Baby Boomer Generation and both over 65, I realize the amount of knowledge they have that can and is useful to the next generation of professionals. Neither has deemed themselves retirees and both have years of useful work to give. If those of the following generations are smart and concerned with bettering their skills and knowledge, they should look to the Baby Boomers as teachers and trainers with a wealth of knowledge that will benefit them in their careers. The next generations need to let go of the need for instant gratification and instead, look for continual ways to better themselves through gained knowledge and experience.
One of the most important skills that Baby Boomers portray in leadership is emotional intelligence, which is defined as “the ability to recognize and manage your emotions and those of other people.” However, one study showed that self management skills improve vastly for every 10 years of life. This means that self management skills do not have a strong correlation with things the world can’t change. This shows that given the time, Gen X and Millennials will shape themselves into the modern age of strong leadership figures the world needs. In fact, the younger generations probably have the upper hand when comparing them in the skill set that is demanded of a leader today. Consumers are demanding change, and Millennials are pushing change. Both are working hand-and-hand with innovative minds towards a new era of leadership roles where Baby Boomers have no part. There is also no need to worry about a gap forming in business hierarchy since baby Boomers out number everyone else. “While not quite as numerous as the original Boomers, at 70 million strong Millennials are just 6 million shy of Boomers and they dwarf the 46 million Gen X’ers. Quantity is covered.”
1.) “The Leadership Vacuum: What We Lose with the Next Generation – DTG News Bytes.” Graphic Design & Publishing Center. Web. 15 July 2010. .
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer.
Thus the generation gap is transcending this reality–that change is evident in the workplace. The interesting thing is that this reality has been perpetuated since the existence of mankind and we are still contemplating what MY future is going to be. At some point when we reach a level of maximum productivity, have substantial clout, and have positioned ourselves to offer an organization more than the incumbent, we will prevail and take the position. The only question is when. Statistically, if you really want to know, according to a survey by Delaware management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton of the 2,500 largest publicly traded corporations the average age of a CEO is 48.8 years down from 50.4. Good luck Boomers! We’re on your tail.
Todaro, Wendy. “Want to Be a CEO? Stay Put.” 31 March 2003. Forbes.com. 16 July 2010 .
Organizations are going to have to change to accommodate a whole generation of baby boomers who are going to be forced to continue working way beyond their retirement age. The corporate world will see baby boomer leaders working side to side with up and coming young generation leaders. The generation in waiting may get impatient and loyalty may wane when they are not rewarded with immediate promotion. In order to effectively manage both generations, organizations are being challenged to come up with creative ways of creating working environments where leaders from the baby boomer age are acknowledged and up and coming leaders are nurtured. Mentoring programs may help bridge the gap between the baby boomers and the new generation. Mentoring programs will help baby boomers feel that their knowledge and expertise are appreciated, and at the same time build loyalty in younger generation leaders in training. When future leaders can see the promise of a path to leadership positions in the future they are less likely to become impatient and leave. In their paper on Baby Boomers and social change Kim & Kunreuther recommend cross generational dialogue and different organizational models that promote mutual learning and shared leadership.
Click to access LD3622H1409.pdf
As Baby Boomers extend their stay in many organizations there will be building frustration of leaders in waiting. Many organizations have grown frustrated at the reluctance of managers to change and adapt in an every changing global market place. The reluctance of companies to engage in social networking and websites is a prime example, and the slow emergence of electronic health records is an example in the health care industry. Psychologist Dr. Paula Butterfield of Columbus, Ohio, says that working across generations is hard for many managers. “It can challenge beliefs and values they’ve always accepted, and squeeze them between the twin rocks of change and conflict.” The tools they use, especially communication skills, says Butterfield, can make or break their level of success. Organizations must make suggestions and lead by example in order to support Baby Boomer leadership and thus avoiding inflaming current managers. If future leaders can provide constructive suggestions and can also follow orders, they will be able to build rapport and common ground with Baby Boomer leaders, thus improving their organizations.
1. Baby Boomer Leaders Face Challenges Communicating Across Generations
by Christine W. Zust, M.A.
Baby Boomers are a mixed breed, drastically different from their previous generation counterparts. To understand how to deal with their business and leadership longevity, it is important to look at what they want. In the book, “The new old: why baby boomers won’t be pensioned off,” Huber and Skidmore attempt to profile Baby Boomers and why they choose to work and remain in leadership longer. For example, Baby Boomers are more individualistic, liberal, more non-conformist, and more anti-establishment than the previous generation. They threw out all the rules and have charted their own path many times over. One could even say that they have defied to 20-40-10 model on purpose and choose to work longer save that quality of life (also important to boomers) is intact. Therefore, new gens must differentiate themselves and learn from the boomers and their vast wealth of knowledge, awaiting the time to take over.
Huber, Julia, and Paul Skidmore. The New Old: Why Baby Boomers Won’t Be Pensioned off. London: Demos, 2003. Print.
The average baby boomer is getting older and working longer. They have responsibilities outside the workplace. Extracurricular activities place a burden on these leaders of the past. Should these leaders continue to lead? They want to. That is the problem. Most retirees of the 50’s and 60’s enjoyed retiring under the shade of a palm tree on Florida’s white sand beaches sipping a margarita. Today, most seniors are not following the trend of by gone days. The new generation came and with a gap. This generational gap has produced a “tech-savvy and enormously impatient generation of workers.” Yes the old generation has and will leave, but not willingly. They are unwilling to let these selfish newcomers. The reality is that soon, “an estimated 31 million of them will be in the U.S. workforces, outnumbering Gen Xers and taking up the slack left by retiring boomers.”
If baby boomers extend their stays within organizations and maintain their leadership positions, they will be holding back the leaders in waiting. In order to avoid inflaming both the Baby Boomer Leadership and emerging leadership, we must somehow incorporate both generations into leadership positions. Both sides must be willing to compromise and give and take a little bit. In my opinion, the best way we can do this would be to pair up an emerging leader with a Baby Boomer leader; something like an apprenticeship. This way the emerging leader and learn the “ins and outs” of their future position and gain wisdom from someone who has tremendous experience in that position. When that Baby Boomer is ready to retire, the apprentice (future leaders) can take over their positions, although it may be many years. As long as the opportunity to enter in to senior leadership as a young leader exists, they will be willing to wait in my opinion.