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Thursday, March 25, 2010

WHAT BOOMERS WANT: Bridging the Generation Gap by Optimizing the Differences, Part 1

What Boomers Want with Terri Benincasa, M.A. Ed.M.

You’re quickly discovering that there’s an ever widening gulf between your company’s Boomer Bosses and Millennial Newcomers, or equally problematic, between your young staff and your Boomer customers.

It’s creating increasing levels of internal discord, customer dissatisfaction (or worse, loss of some of your highest spending customers, Boomers), and lost productivity through either high staff turn-over or time taken away from growing your business to handle conflicts. You’re seeing big gaps in:
  • Communication style (high-tech vs. low-tech; formal vs. informal; individualism vs. team approach)

  • Workplace expectations (work/service ethic; dress; career demands such as flex-time)

  • Compensation/Motivation/Reward Systems expectations

The good news: you’re not alone. This “corporate generation gap” is being felt, and addressed, by the likes of Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

So, what to do about it.

This will get you started using two basic steps: the first fosters improved understanding between the disagreeing parties on which all conflict resolution is based; the second uses that higher-level awareness to take the differences from polarizing, to productivity power-houses!


Here’s what Boomers and Millennials have in common, often without realizing it:

  1. Appreciation of a win-win outcome:
    Both generations prefer to get their own needs met without having to sacrifice the needs of others.

  2. Need to see the value of their contribution to the company/end result:
    Both prefer to work from a vision, a sense of being valued for their knowledge or specific skill sets, and like being a part of the decision-making process regardless of level.

  3. A desire to be seen as the best at what they do:
    Don’t let the differences in the way they go about it fool you. Boomers may show this through working longer hours, whereas Millennials may pride themselves more on their creativity, but at heart, both have the same pride in their end work product.

  4. Appreciation for flexibility (how that flexibility is played out is where the conflict usually arises):
    Here again style may overshadow substance, so it is easy to miss the way each uses and values versatility.

  5. Both want to know “what’s in it for me”:
    Boomers are known as the “me” generation, Millennials the “everybody gets a trophy” group, but as you can see, each has at its base the desire to have one’s own specific needs met, so once understood, both can appreciate that in the other.

And, here’s a generational check-list to effectively begin the communication process:


Be very clear about the benefits of working for the company, and for you. You would want the same information if you were your staff.

What you focus on is what you get. If you focus on the negatives, you'll foster them. Focus on the positives and you'll get a whole lot more of them!


Don’t buy the myth that jumping from job to job is a good thing. It's not and will come back to haunt you.

You too must focus on the positives with your Boomer boss, not the negatives. You get what you focus on.


This is the window of time to pass on and learn from the expertise Boomers have acquired over the decades. Take advantage of it before it's gone.

For more information, please visit Terri's TNNW Bio.


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