Last year about this time, I went in search of a local web designer to help me make a few adjustments to my corporate website. With that, my working relationship with Lauren Medelberg, a young, very bright, and high energy Millennial was born.
Over the year, we became unlikely friends with a gap of 40 years between us. She has stretched my imagination and prodded me to be more courageous. Most of all, she has helped me realize that our future is well taken care of because of the people of her generation.
Recently, Lauren expressed frustration after reviewing a negative comment made by a reader against Millennials. Lauren wanted people of the older generation to get beyond the generalizations of her generation. They want to be treated with respect. They know they need to earn it, but don’t feel that older generations are open to it. I offered to let Lauren tell us what she needs on behalf of her millennial peers.
Here is her ask:
“It is 2019 and instead of bridging the gap between our generations and learning together, we make the choice to dislike each other simply based on age. We have so much to learn from one another, yet we choose to point out the faults. Growing and working together to build our society up should be our focus, instead of bringing each other down.
I was born at the tail end of the Millennial Generation and I often hear that people of my generation are “lazy whiney children” who have no idea what we are doing with our lives. However, in technicality, we are some of the most educated adults in history and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest generation currently in the workforce as of 2016.
Now, I will not deny that we do have our downfalls, just like the generations before us and the generations to follow. I really do feel that we have a lot to offer society. We are the generation of technology. In my lifetime alone, I have watched technology change so rapidly that it has become an all-consuming part of our lives. This is an amazing thing and a terrible thing all in one.
The reason I say it’s terrible as well is because we have lost the person to person contact that has been such a large part of generations before us. This is why it’s so important for us to work with the older generations. We help with technology and older generations guide us in leadership and person to person communications. We need them and quite honestly, they need us. It’s a give and a take situation that helps society in the long run.
I have included a reference document that explains the differences in generations and a guide to engage today’s employees: Generations by Ken Abrams
This matrix outlines the positives and negatives of all the generations and provides good resources on how to communicate and work as team no matter what age groups are a part of your team.
Although I do work with technology in my career daily, I reached out to a few of my colleagues to see what they have to say about the gap in generations. A great point that one of them made was the difference in routine between the generations. For example, balancing a check book was very common amongst the older generations whereas the younger generations have apps that do things like that for them. Younger generations often have the mindset of work smarter by using the technology we have at our fingertips. Though technology provides great tools, we have also seen where our generations have become so dependent on the technology that we struggle to go without it. Older generations have no problem because that is what they have been doing for years.
A point another friend made was how the IT field needs specialized jobs such as Data Scientists or CyberSecurity Architects. In the past IT was everything technology related within the company. Now, with the field growing exponentially every day, the need for certain specialties have become in high demand. As the need for specialties has grown, there have shown to be more positions than people who know what to do. They also commented, “IT has always been comprised typically of individuals who are self-starters/learners. They have to be in order to keep up with an ever-evolving field.” I thought this was a great point because IT is always changing, so adaption is a huge part of the industry no matter what generation you are in.
No matter what age you are, I am, or anyone else is, we all have our strengths – be it the loyalty and strong relationships of the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers or the creativity and new ideas of the Millennials and Gen Zers. If we learn to work together as a team, as a society, we can use all our strengths. So, I challenge you all to reach out to someone from a different generation and learn something new. Let’s bridge the gaps between us and grow as one. “
Lauren is right. She and her friends are our future leaders. I’ve learned how much we need each other and how much we have to gain.
Technology is driving changes in the workplace faster than I’ve ever experienced. Digital technology is changing the way we work, play, and live. Speed, collaboration, innovation, and engagement are no longer “nice to haves” but are necessities. We live in a world where the always available, always on mindset prevails. Employees and organization must grow and adapt to constant change. On top of it all, leaders are accountable for creating a workplace where all employees can thrive.
There is a place for every generation alive in our workplace. We have the opportunity to work and learn together by understanding and meeting the needs of each generation.
- Baby Boomers – (My generation) We’ve been working in the industry upwards of 40 years and are taking our experience with us as we retire over the next 10 years. Until we leave the workforce, we need (and struggle) to continue to develop new skills in a rapidly changing environment. At the same time, we have the opportunity to impart our wisdom and leadership skills on the generations behind us.
- Generation X – This generations is often referred to as the over-looked generation. They are poised to take on senior leadership roles as we baby boomers begin our exodus from the workforce. Gen Xers are increasingly taking control of the company reins and will be charged to lead their organizations through the next wave of technology and corporate growth.
- Millennials – Remember, they aren’t the new kids on the block anymore and there are a whole lot of them. The Millennial generation is expected to continue to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Many of them have been working for 15 years, and at the age of 37 they are already the face of leadership spanning many companies and industries. I have coached IT managers as young as 25. Yes, it impresses me as well.
- Gen Z – The newest generation of employees has entered the workforce. They have never known a world without digital technology or the internet. They are true digital natives with their own traits which include a quest for authenticity and connection.
With the need for technology workers expected to exceed $3m new positions by 2025, there is a place for all generations. Most importantly, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from each other. With that, I accept Lauren’s challenge and look forward to our continued partnership.
Will you join me? If you want to reach out and tell her yourself, you can find her at linkedin.com/in/lauren-medelberg
Until next week!
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Valid points however I do want to say that my personal experience (I am 64) with millennials and Gen Z is that many assume that we do not know technology, that they are unsure of what we know and not that curious…because everything they need to know is on the internet right ? I also find a certain amount of critical thinking absent in their discussions..although, again, this is not necessarily tied to age. Don’t get me wrong I adore technology, the internet, and use it all extensively. I love the new tech coming out. But to assume that I ever balanced my check book because I am a baby boomer is silly. Actually I was one of the first to sell and use on line banking. And oh yes my mother of 90 years old uses iPad and FaceTime extensively. Well anyway, let us just say that, as with most things, age is a state of mind and NOT a chronological number. It would benefit everyone to remember that when trying to bridge some gap that is solely age based.