PM Network reported last month that 65% of respondents felt that there was a generation gap when it comes to project management. We are now in the first time that five generations work together in the workplace. Experienced (i.e. Experienced (i.e. Several presenters at October’s PMI Global Congress mentioned the age differences in work and strategies for managing younger workers.
Social media is often cited as the reason for having to ‘deal with’ young people at work. We must keep up-to-date! Young people are better at technology than us! Because they only understand txt-spk, a whole generation of project managers cannot spell correctly!
Where are the speakers talking about how younger project managers can collaborate with Baby Boomers? Is everyone talking about the generation gap in work after the age of 45?
The Baby Boomers are everywhere
Regular readers will be aware that I recently turned 35. For my entire career, I have worked alongside people older than myself. I am certain I have many years more to go before I become the oldest person at work.
I know that I am not the only one who works with older people.
The Baby Boomers are people who were born between 1946 and 1964. According to Generations, Inc. authors Meagan and Larry Johnson, they account for 30% of the workforce. The Traditionals, who were born prior to 1946, make up 8%. This is nearly 40% of the people working in the office. If you’re 45 years old or younger, you might work with some of them.
Many Baby Boomers work in specialist or managerial jobs so they are highly probable to be:
Your project sponsor
The person you would like to be the line manager for staff members to join your project team
Your PMO Director
You will need to consult experts in your field or have them work on your project.
Members of your Project Board, Steering Group, or governance body
They are a constant challenge for young project managers. We must accept that we are working with older people, just as Baby Boomers had to deal with the technically-savvy Gen X, Gen Y, and Linksters (those born after 95).
Working with older colleagues presents challenges
It is not easy to work with Baby Boomers. I have heard this from younger project managers, and have personally experienced it in various roles. It is that they are not taken seriously. Their ideas are often dismissed because they are younger. Because they don’t have the same experience as older colleagues, their opinions are not considered reliable or weighty.
Unfortunately, even though you are young, project management is still a job that you must do, regardless of how your older colleagues rate. Here are five tips to work with Baby Boomers.
Here are 5 tips to work with Baby Boomers
1. Recognize their experience. Boomers are familiar with the challenges and have seen them all before, regardless of whether you like it. You bring a different set and level of knowledge to the team as a project manager. But don’t forget their contributions. Respecting their experience will earn you their respect.
2. Use them. Boomers have been involved in projects and your organization for a while. How can you get them to contribute to your organisation? How can you tap into their networks and gain knowledge from others or a better understanding about the company’s operations?
3. Don’t micromanage your employees. Boomers are used to managing their time and getting on with their jobs. They don’t have to be supervised constantly and they won’t appreciate it. You must keep a healthy balance. They still need to be able to follow the project’s structure and provide regular updates.
4. Get them involved. It is not worth running a project that doesn’t consider the needs of Boomers. Yes, they may have retirement plans.