A Boomer’s Perspective On Working With Gen Y

Note: Edward Boches is the founder/creator of The Next Great Generation.

I just got back from SxSW.  One of my favorite panels was the “We want to work with you” Gen Y panel #sxgeny.  For the simple reason that it actually proved to be what the panelists claim they are: collaborative.  While virtually every session at SxSW had a hashtag, the panelists in this session actually used it, viewing the stream in real time and responding, even to criticisms (admittedly from me).  Thirty minutes into the session the floor was opened to questions. And a rich, interactive conversation ensued.

Sure, the group on stage, like many Gen Y’ers I know, was confident, opinionated, and determined to set their own expectations and define their professional roles and relationships. But at the same time they are anxious to learn. They’ll show loyalty to mentors.  And commit time and effort to anyone who’s willing to teach them and help them succeed.  Not that these are generational characteristics, but this group clearly expressed both what they want from an employer and what they’re willing to give.

No doubt there are boomers and Gen Xers who resent Gen Y’s self-proclaimed digital prowess along with their determination to work “with” us rather than for us.  But in many ways this generation is narrowing gaps. At least for me. It’s a blast working with them, mentoring them, learning from them.  This video is a brief recap of TNGG to date and shares some of my enthusiasm.

Oh, thought you’d be interested in this Twitter exchange between me and another boomer, Rick Murray, president of Edelman Digital.  During the session I reminded the room that even boomers hate aspects of their job (during a discussion about whether every aspect of one’s gig should be rewarding).  Rick saw it and answered back.

Edward Boches I'm the founder of TNGG. I blog, teach, speak, crowdsource, create communities and try to stay current. One of the original four partners at Mullen, I'm still there every day as chief creative officer and champion of change. Admittedly, I'm over 25, but they're letting me be part of the project. Twitter: @edwardboches

View all posts by Edward Boches

6 Responses to “A Boomer’s Perspective On Working With Gen Y”

  1. Christine

    Edward, tell the world about the bar code on your shirt! :P

    Maybe the collaborative work style comes from the fact that we were forced to work in teams so often throughout our education. And those teams were always with people who were our exact same age and usually of the same intellectual ability… so, working with people as a junior member of a team is difficult for us to get used to. I can see why that might turn into frustration for people working with Gen Y.

  2. Andreana Drencheva

    Thank you!!! You are one of the few Boomers I've heard/read say something nice about us.

    I understand we are very different from previous generations and it might be frustrating to work with us sometimes, but, as I just commented on Hannah's article from yesterday, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship if we and previous generations do a bit of work to get to know what motivates all of us and how we work best. A little bit of flexibility and communication can go a long way :)

  3. Edward Boches

    Bummer: Just learned that the sticky bit bar code stickers are not unique. Other people around the world are using my bar code so they must have the same one! True on the collaboration. I have noticed that when I put a bunch of you guys together, you are all more opinionated and vocal and do a great job figuring stuff out. And when there are a bunch of old, white male in the room, it's harder for you to be confident and, frankly, for them to listen. I'm learning.

  4. Ben Smithee (@SpychResearch)

    Hi Everyone!!

    Edward – First, thank you so much for showing your support and attending our panel! Not only were you a major voice from the audience, but you brought up extremely compelling points and topics! I definitely applaud what you are doing here at TNGG and would love to chat sometime.

    The #SXGeny panel was a fun time, and it was definitely do to collaboration and help from the audience. Though, it was my task to moderate the panel, we really set out for us to be 5 moderators moderating the collaborative group session :)

    Thanks again for your support and for taking the time to write about it here! Would love to chat!


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