Think about a new talk show that NBC or CBS wanted to produce that included all David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Ellen DeGeneres. It could be a nightmare, but hey, it could also be legendary. Not counting the various preferences in content and comedy, there are ways they each like to run their show, ways they prefer to tell their jokes, ways they interview guests, etc. That could cause disengagement, animosity, jealousy, and basically spark a fire from them being in the same room together. However, because of their diverse experiences, talents, skills, ideas, it could be the best talk show to ever air on the planet.
“I think you’re crazy and you think I’m crazy, but that’s great!”
What if the Avengers decided to be so prideful about their own powers and abilities, that they fought the bad guys on each of their own terms? They wouldn’t be the Avengers (Thus, why Iron Man and Captain America have had some beef in the past).
If a basketball team decided to not work together and all five players on the court wanted to play point guard, the team wouldn’t function effectively, and therefore, would likely lose the game.
You’ve likely witnessed hundreds of articles or viewed dozens of videos that have centered on this “Battle of the Generations” going on in our culture today—more particularly in our workforce. Most of those articles or videos include baby boomers and millennials bashing on one another.
There appears to be a larger focus on the boomers vs. millennials today for one HUGE reason. That is the fact that millennials are about to become the majority in the workforce (what I call the “about to tip” point”). That explains why there are issues as older managers or leaders are handing their long, hard-earned positions off to those much younger and less knowledgeable than them. Boomers are being managed by those 30 years their junior that have come in with few years experience and get to enjoy the benefits of leading already. Many boomers have to transfer knowledge to their kids or grandkids—that leaves room for some hesitancy and legitimate concern. Hence, why this generation battle is waging on today.
Let’s get one thing clear; millennials and baby boomers are right, wrong, and weird! And so are all the other generations. What does that mean?
If you grew up in the 80’s, you are proud of the “big hair” bands, neon spandex, and hairspray. Notice there was a lot of “hair” going on back in that decade? If you grew up in the 80’s, you are likely part of Generation X.
If you are in your mid 70’s to mid 90’s, you’re part of the Silent generation A.K.A. a “Traditionalist.” You are proud of the accomplishments your specific generation had in entrepreneurship, business, politics, especially after overcoming the Great Depression and World War II. You are also likely more prone to avoid technology in this day in age.
Each generation is proud of what they have accomplished, what they overcame, and what they can achieve today in the workplace. Whether you think it or not, your generation is amazing, but also extremely strange. But, that’s cool!
We all grew up with different experiences
Today, if you asked a typical 17-year-old what they thought about the Bee Gees or what they knew about the 8-track, you’d likely receive a blank stare and a non-verbal response of “you crazy”. If you were to ask an average 80-year-old what they thought of Kendrick Lamar’s music or what they think the Kardashians are up to, you’d also receive a blank response and a non-verbal queue that expressed a “what the bleep are you talking about?”
Weird, different, cool, in-style, or out-of-style, each generation relates best to those things and people who grew up along side of them. Anyone who mixes or interacts with a different generation is more than likely to have a swayed opinion or a biased preference. It’s because we better understand those who have the most in common with us. We also faced the same societal challenges, world-events, devastations, technological or medical advancements, etc.
Ask anyone who was in high school during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger and his or her experience and memories will be very similar. Equally, those who were in school during 9/11 will remember similar emotions. We share these experiences. We share these sentiments and that’s why we identify with and connect best with those our age.
We all think we are the best and that others are all wrong
“Millennials are lazy and expect things to be handed to them.” A 2014 YouGov poll says that 69 percent of Americans think those under 30 are lazy (keyword here is “think”).
“The Baby Boomers: whiny, narcissistic, self-indulgent people with a simple philosophy: “Gimme that! It’s mine!” –George Carlin
Though some of these negative or derogatory statements may appear to be true at times, there are always going to be disagreements in how each generation prefers to do things and what makes each generation “tick”.
No single generation is right and no single generation is wrong. We are all right and wrong, cool and abnormal in our own ways.
These types of comments and mindsets must be avoided for us to be able to connect, collaborate, and better unite to move forward as a society. As the workforce changes so drastically over the next two years with millennials becoming the majority of workers, we must respect and accept one another more than ever before.
If we don’t begin to accept each other’s strengths and avoid the negatives, we are going to face even more struggle in the workplace.
Jake B. Melton
Founder & Speaker
The J.B. Melton Group, LLC