Worst Generational Advice Ever

headsmackI am not going to link to the post, because it’s just so awful, but here is some of the advice that a Baby Boomer author (who describes herself as a “Millennial Whisperer”) gives to Millennials on working with Boomer bosses:

Do it their way before you fix it. Millennials must do it the boomer’s way, and make sure you’ve got that down first. THEN you can suggest changes, but only by going step by step over everything to “show respect” for “their” process.

Ask for unsaid specifics. This one’s my favorite. Basically, if a Boomer manager says the deadline is tomorrow, it is up to YOU to clarify that he or she actually means 10am tomorrow as opposed to close of business. Great. Millennials need to be mind readers.

“Draft” doesn’t actually mean “Draft.” Yay, more mind reading! Direct quote from the post: “To a Boomer, “draft” means ready for distribution in case they can’t look at it.” So “send me a draft” apparently means something along the lines of “write up a final version, and depending on my whim, I may ask you go to back and do tons of edits, which means you wasted your time perfecting the “draft,” or I may just send it along as a finished product.” Lovely.

A little old-style respect goes a long way. Basically, we (Boomers and Xers) like hierarchy, so don’t rock the boat. From the post: “So just blurting out your thoughts about the office or the industry to your boss’s boss’s boss may just result in a deer-in-the-headlights response that doesn’t yield the result you intend.” Hmmm. So get back in line. When we want your ideas, we’ll tell you what they are.

I sincerely hope that the views of that author are not widely representative of the views of Baby Boomers. If your organization thinks in these ways, you’ve got problems. And that’s not because Boomers are wrong and Millennials are right. It’s because there is some serious dysfunction in the views expressed above. That a manager should give vague deadlines and make direct reports do the clarifying is a flat-out bad idea. It’s inefficient and breeds inconsistency. That processes are “owned” by their creators which means changing them should be hard and require tiptoeing is guaranteeing you’ll be slow, which is a questionable strategy in today’s economy. And the “don’t speak your mind unless we have prepared ourselves to hear you” advice? Yeah, no wonder employee engagement is only at 30%.

Generational differences are important, and unfortunately articles like the one I’m pointing to here end up as distracting–providing evidence that this generational stuff is bunk. Try to see past articles like this. Look for the ones that illuminate knowledge of generational differences in order to help the whole system learn and grow, and dismiss the ones that put one generation over the other and demand compliance.