The other night I spoke at a Business School for 3 hours, focussing on Generational Theory in the workplace. There was lots of stimulating discussion, but the one thread that caught my attention was a comment made by an Xer around the Boomers in his office. He worked in a predominantly IT company, stocked with predominantly Xers, and as per the natural order, Boomers owned the management space.
What caught my attention was when he said, “we’ve learned how to use technology to leave out the Boomers who are difficult to work with or don’t easily understand.” Is this some of the pain that we’re hearing from bigger corporates where boomers dominate and Xers are punching through? Is this seen far more clearly in organisations dominated by Xers? If so how is this going to play itself out down the road?

When you consider that for the last decade and more, Boomers have had the work place pretty much to themselves and therefore organised themselves around how they like to do business, then one must consider the effect of a new generation coming through with a different approach to work and life. To assume this is going to be an easy transition in which Xers simply intergrate with Boomer ways, and take the mantle with little shift or change, is to underestimate the cultural transition currently in progress.
The comment in the business school was around the frustration felt by his mostly Xer colleagues when working in an environment in which his boss was unable to use technology to keep the pace of discussion, nor to fully understand the needs and challenges being faced within the business by his team. The solution was to by-pass his boss and go above him to a faster responding more sympathetic leader. He expressed this challenge as a Boomer / Xer divide.
Our business is dominated by Xers, and I’ve seen the uncomfortable-ness running in both directions, as Boomers and Xers exert their influence on how things should or shouldn’t happen. The language used, the expectations expressed, the manner in which work is done, the priorities set, etc, etc. Perhaps I see it more clearly because we’re so heavily stacked with Xers, and are trying to build a business the Xer way (whatever that is – it’s emerging)

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