Dealing with Boomers

The generation born prior to the mid 1960’s was part of a world of wealth and success. Their parents had returned from WWII victorious. The United States was about to enter into a period of prosperity that had not been known by the previous generations. These factors had a lasting impact on boomer values. Boomers are extremely hard working and have a loyalty that was as an unbreakable bond. It was the norm for a boomer to retire from the same company where they had their “first” real job. Advancement in those years was heavily influenced by seniority, not years old but years with the company. You had to earn your opportunities through loyally doing what you were asked. I recently read a CNN.com article that stated the Baby boomers all but invented the 60 hour work week. Again loyalty is demonstrated through your behaviors and commitment in their eyes.

How can Jill from our case study navigate her meeting with her Boomer boss?

  • First she has to recognize that his perspective is real to him. Whether she likes it or not, it is his perspective.
  • There is no use in her defending her position in this meeting unless of course the facts were incorrect. Acknowledge the facts first and demonstrate effective listening.
  • She should agree to address the behaviors that her boss is referring to. A plan to be on time, asking for feedback of non verbal language in meetings would be a good start.
  • Jill should ask her boss to help you understand what his expectations are? According to Ken Blanchard, most employees and managers have vastly different understandings of expectations. [Side note: The Blanchard Companies have excellent webinars that introduce their clients to their management products. Click on the word “webinars” above to learn more] If you do not know what your supervisor expects, it will be almost impossible to change this situation for the better. Most importantly, knowing what is expected affords the knowledge needed to know whether you are willing to pay the price for success in the role or seek other opportunities.
  • With an understanding of the expectations, Jill can then explore how she might get an opportunity to lead a project in the future. Questions like “What characteristics do you look for in the people you assign project roles to?” would be a good place to start.These are some ideas on what would help navigate the dreaded feedback meeting with the boss. Have you tried something different and been successful? I would love to hear from you.
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