Five reasons this baby boomer loves working with millennials

As both a diversity and career development consultant, I enjoy studying and presenting the topic of our multiple generations in the workplace and generational diversity. (Link to my blog on the growing areas of diversity that I published in 2012.) Generational diversity is now one of the most discussed diversity topics.

I am always saddened when I hear the generations rag on each other. Older people often comment that the younger generation feels so entitled, wants everything handed to them, is lazy, and cannot stick with anything. And then some young people complain about how older employees are slow, stuck in their ways, not open to change and judgmental.

Instead of a workplace collision around the generations, there should instead be workplace collaboration. The generations do have so much to offer each other in terms of vast knowledge, marketplace awareness, creativity and enthusiasm.

Thanks to Sheila Forte-Trammel (link) for coming up with the “from collision to collaboration” idea.

Being a baby boomer well into my 60s, I have enjoyed most of my interactions with millennial professionals I call on. They are indeed cool with engaging with an older guy like me. Here are some of the traits I enjoyed with some of those millennials I have worked with:

1. They are open to new ideas and like to think “outside the box.” They are looking for new and better ways to do things.

2. They are not afraid to take ideas up to senior leadership quickly. Too often some seasoned professionals express fear or hesitancy with taking some of my ideas to their leadership, whereas the millennials will just “go for it.”

3. Discussions are fast and crisp. In a recent meeting with a young leader at a tech company, we hit about a half dozen different topics in less than 45 minutes. And younger professionals can answer a question in 2-3 sentences, and they are indeed complete answers.

4. They are often leaders in diversity and inclusion within their companies. Having grown up in an era where diversity was there and assumed, they are much more attuned to the business value of being fully inclusive of everyone.

5. They value jobs that offer them personal growth. Many millennials strive to find professions that align with their passions and then excel in those jobs.

And while I was writing this blog, Anne-Lise Gere of Gere Consulting Associates, an excellent HR consultant I have met a number of times, published an article about retaining Millennial talent. Do link to this resourceful article, “Revisiting Turnover Myths For Your Millennial Workforce.”

And now perhaps some millennial out there will be inspired to write a blog on how they enjoy working with seasoned experienced baby boomers like me!

Unconscious Bias – It can be organizational as well as personal

A year ago, I provided a two part series on Unconscious Bias, which defined this phenomena and how to address it at the personal level. Since that time, I have developed an in depth workshop that is now being offered as part of the National Diversity Council’s training program. In addition, I am available to provide consulting and customized training on unconscious bias for clients.

But … want to know something very important? Unconscious bias, defined as “the attitudes of stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner… in ways we may not even be aware of ….” is not only personal. Organizations themselves can also have a culture of embedded unconscious bias. Often the unconscious bias of the majority in leadership or in power can then become the norm for the entire organization.

Here are some ways unconscious bias can manifest itself in an organization:

Recruiting and Hiring – it is so easy to gravitate toward people who have more common in ourselves or our organizational culture rather than skills. One example in the hiring area is bringing in engineers or lawyers overwhelmingly from one particular university.

Work Assignments – leaders can tend to give the plum assignments to people most like themselves, or could give assignment out based on stereotypical views; e.g. the single person with no children will be more dedicated to this tough project than an employee with small children.

Very often organizational unconscious bias can impact effective team work.

Team work – we may gravitate to working more closely with people like ourselves and unintentionally not draw in or listen to people who are different.

Promotions and Talent Development – we see organization unconscious bias in the way the white male senior corporate leadership seems to perpetuate boards and c-Suites that have very few women and people of color. Are diverse people given the chance to be mentored and developed in leadership? See my recent guest blog on the Importance of Minority Coaching.

Treatment and Interaction with clients – we can see this often in retail environments where people in the majority population or who are older or dressed more conservatively are given preferential treatment.

An establishment needs to handle organizational unconscious bias in the same that personal unconscious bias is handled:
1. Take the time admit that unconscious bias does exist in your organization and start to identify the ways it is manifested.
2. Put together an action plan with specifics in how to address those manifestations of organizational unconscious bias.
3. Take action, establish metrics, measure the progress, and hold leaders accountable.