Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boomer’

You Know You’re Growing Older When…

While searching for a file on an old hard drive, I came across this list of 25 ways to know you getting older.  I saved this list over 10 years ago. As a 40-something Baby Boomer at the time, I had no idea how accurate it would be!  But as an almost 60 year old Boomer, the list is painfully true.  Fortunately it’s also a tremendous source of smiles, if not outright laughter.  Here goes:

  1. Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.
  2. The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
  3. You feel like the morning after, and you haven’t been anywhere.
  4. Your address book (or contacts) contains only names ending in M.D.
  5. You get winded playing chess.
  6. Your children begin to look middle aged.
  7. You decide to procrastinate but then never get around to it.
  8. Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
  9. A dripping faucet causes an uncontrollable bladder urge.
  10. You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
  11. You look forward to a dull evening.
  12. You walk with your head held high trying to get use to your bifocals.
  13. Your favorite part of the newspaper is “25 Years Ago Today.”
  14. You turn out the light for economic rather than romantic reasons.
  15. You sit in a rocking chair and can’t make it go.
  16. Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
  17. After painting the town red, you have to take a long rest before applying a second coat.
  18. You’re startled the first time you are addressed as “Old Timer”.
  19. You remember today that yesterday was your wedding anniversary.
  20. You just can’t stand people who are intolerant.
  21. You burn the midnight oil after 9 PM.
  22. Your back goes out more than you do.
  23. The little gray haired lady you helped across the street is your wife.
  24. You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
  25. Your sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.

Bette Davis once said, “Old age is not for sissies.” Ain’t it the truth?

Do you have any experiences that are missing from this list?  Please share them with us aging Baby Boomers!

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Cool Job Creation Heats Up Generation Tensions

While the economy sputters, tensions heats up between the generations.

Lost in the diversity of generational news last week was a common element – the generations are struggling to right themselves following the recession and going forward.

The just released cover story of October’s The Atlantic magazine talks about the Baby Boomers’ last chance to redeem themselves after what the writer Michael Kinsley describes as decades of self-absorbed and self-indulgent behavior.

The postwar generation is leaving a bitter legacy: crumbling infrastructure, crushing public debt, and a reflexive cynicism about all institutions, from churches to Congress to the media. It’s time for redemption…Kinsley urges fellow Boomers to cough up some cash—say, $14 trillion—to fix the mess they’re leaving.

That could be a problem.  Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research released a study last week too that exposed a retirement income deficit that few people likely found surprising. The gap between what Americans need for retirement and the amount they have saved is a staggering $6.6 trillion.

“The retirement income deficit is the gap between the pensions and retirement savings that American households have today and what they should have today to be on track to maintain their living standard in retirement,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. “The retirement income deficit shows just how bad the crisis has become.”

If Baby Boomers can’t maintain the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, they will likely keep working.  An article in Fast Company last week offered harsh realities that have stymied Generation Y (also called Millennials). Topping the list was: The Baby Boomers are not voluntarily leaving the workplace! :

The Recession has decimated the Boomers’ opportunity to retire and left them with no choice but to continue to work for the foreseeable future. And, because Boomers are living during a period when medical science is going to continue to improve their ability to be healthy and work, that “foreseeable future” is a lot longer than anyone could have imagined!

As I’ve described in several articles in the past, that’s bad news for Generation X and Generation Y.  The Fast Company article goes on to describe several scenarios that will only feed the frustration felt by the jobless Gen Ys and career-stalled Gen X.

Not only are the Boomers going to remain in the workplace but they are also going to retain their positions of authority…If they are forced out of their current employment positions, Baby Boomers will actively compete with the Millennials for other jobs!

And despite being recognized as “digital natives” and the “Internet Generation,” the advantage these young Gen Y adults may be dissipating with time. The fourth harsh reality describes

“…how the Technological Edge the Millennials touted as the differentiator between them and the other Generations in the workplace is diminishing as the other Generations, faced with no choice, close the technological gap. Boomers may never be able to text as fast as Millennials but they will be able to text fast enough for the workplace! And Boomers have the interpersonal skill set to go with the texting skill set!”

Putting the shrinking technology gap into perspective, one group wonders if the technology gap is myth or reality.  The author says “I find that Millennial (Google Generation) students have the fastest thumbs in the west and can answer a cell phone call at the speed of light.  Beyond this, their technology related skills, from an academic perspective, seem quite limited.”

This was also the topic of conversation before and during a panel discussion last week at Harrisburg University. While all the panelists agree that Generation Y are the most comfortable generation using technology, they may not be the most skilled at applying it in the workplace.

Of course, the more imminent impact of the recession and delayed departure of Baby Boomers will be felt by Generation X.  Kinsley wrote in a forum response to his Atlantic article how “Gen-Xers are going to get screwed by [the entitlements and debt government is accumulating] even more than Boomers as the bills come in.”

And while the bills could be huge, the impact on society could be even bigger.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, last week too. It revealed that that one in seven Americans are living in poverty.  It  also found that more than 8 percent of people between 25 and 34 (mostly Generation Y) are living with their parents.

Education is often prescribed as the solution to society’s ills and as the pathway to regaining our competitive position in the global marketplace.  If the prescription is correct, then the patient is dying based on a new report, Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010. Calling it a “national crisis,” the report found that only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year. And in New York City, the district with the nation’s highest enrollment in African American students, only 28% percent of its African American males students receive a high school diploma.

Poverty and poor graduation rates are unlikely to significantly increase tensions between generational gaps in the workforce.  But ignoring these problems will only add to the burden borne by future generations who will need to figure out ways to support millions of people who are unemployable.

In the short term, the longer unemployment remains high the more resentment will likely build between generations both in the workplace and in our communities.

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Round 2: Resentment Grows Between Boomers and Millennials

There appears to be a lot of white elephants in the room these days, none bigger than a generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials.

On this day last year I posted an article asking, “Are Generational Differences Turning From A Gap Into A Chasm?”  Today I read two articles that reveals the gap is still a very real issue that few organizations are addressing adequately.

In one corner we have Steve Israel representing the Baby Boomers. Steve posted an article titled “Millennials vs. Boomers: You twerps owe us everything.”  That about says it all.

Steve wrote:

If it weren’t for us baby boomers, most of you wouldn’t be here. Literally.

We are your parents. You sprung from our wombs, from our love.
We don’t just deserve your respect; we deserve your eternal gratitude — for the food you ate, for the clothes you wore, for the roofs over your heads. By the way, we’re still giving food, clothes and roofs to the more than 10 million of you who still live in our homes.

And what have you millennials — the 50 million Americans born between 1980 and 1995 who are becoming adults at the start of this new millennium — given us?
Nada — except the smug expectation that we should give you more.
How ungrateful can you be?

In the other corner is Millennial (aka Gen Y) Timothy Malcolm. Timothy has quite a different opinion. He urges Baby Boomers to “Give up the reins, you geezers.”

Timothy wrote:

The main reason we 20-somethings still sleep at mom’s house is because mom and dad won’t get out of the work force. They’re clogging the pipeline.

Baby boomers make up the largest generation in American history. The current 20-something generation is almost as large, ironically, thanks to the boomers having all those kids.
Because of improvements in health care, boomers are not only living longer, but they’re subjected to the salacious whispers that, yes, even in old age, they can remain vital! They can keep working, climb mountains, row boats and — gasp — have sex! Think about Lucy and Ricky or Archie and Edith cavorting in beachside bathtubs. Yeah, it is ridiculous.

Sure, we 20-somethings have some ridiculous traits, too. We waste time on Facebook, but as one of the original users, I’ve seen the boomers completely ruin that social networking site. Our music might be hard to understand, but at least I can’t take credit for Cher. And, seriously, when are the Who going to stop?

Timothy concludes his article with “So stop wasting our generation’s chance. And stop wasting our country’s possibilities.”

So far, the first round of the attitude gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials has been subdued and mostly a war of words.  But as the recession lingers on and Gen Y joblessness remains high, one can only wonder if the resentment building up will boil over in a full fledged battle.

Round two anyone?

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Generation Gaps Occur At All Ages

Like many workers, one day earlier this year former Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Gen Xer came to work only to discover he was old.

The 6 time Pro-bowler and 5 time conference title QB was dealt to the division rival Washington Redskins.  One reason given for the trade was a generation gap, although Coach Andy Reid denied age was a part of the criteria in the decision to part ways with McNabb.

One might expect that defensive remark coming from an employer in this litigious job market.  Age discrimination is a major concern as businesses try their best to rebuild their workforces. Many businesses chose to force early retirement and layoffs to create openings for younger, cheaper workers who could keep pace in a faster paced, more dynamic, and more innovative marketplace.

The wrinkle in this generation gap story however is that McNabb is only 33 years old.

BehindTheLines-3-Ira

As I’ve said before, the gap between generations isn’t always about age, but attitude. The Eagles new twenty-something line-up plays fast and they connect in a nanosecond. It even forces 52-year-old baby boomer Eagles head coach Andy Reid to keep his Blackberry charged.  “I text,” Reid says. “I’ll text something like ‘have a great day at practice.’ Or if I go through practice at the end I might shoot a guy a text like ‘great job’ or whatever the correction might be.


Communication wasn’t quite the same with McNabb and former Eagle running back Brian Westbrook. Both players dominated much of the offense for the past seven years but both also had other life demands and interests that started to separate them for the younger players.But this year it was out with the old and in with the new generation of younger players. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement 26, is the oldest of the offensive nucleus. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are 22, while DeSean Jackson is 23. Tight end Brent Celek is 25. He and Kolb are the only guys in the group legally old enough to rent a car.

In addition to texting and tweeting, the new generation spends a lot of time together off the field. McNabb had a lot of different demands on his time. Jeremy Maclin felt that “being close in age you just kind of bond with guys a little more around your age. And I think it does translate to the field.”

Employers of all types of organizations could learn a lesson or two from the Eagles story.  First, generation gaps aren’t limited to Baby Boomers and Millennials. They occur between younger and older workers even when only a few years separate the workers.  Second, generations isn’t just influenced by age differences, but attitudes toward life and work.

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Employers and Employees On Collision Course

Employers and employees are obviously headed for a collision to be played out in a workplace near you.  A recently released Deloitte report called the standoff “a tale of two mindsets.”

Many employers seem to believe their employees have few options in this weak economy.  They feel employees should feel lucky they have job.

Employees, especially the most talented and qualified, see the world a bit differently. Among employees surveyed in the Deloitte survey, a significant number of workers are looking to jump ship. Thirty percent of employees are currently working the job market and nearly half are at least considering leaving their current jobs.

That stands in sharp contrast to the executives who were surveyed. Only 9 percent of executives expect voluntary turnover to increase significantly among Generation X employees. That means 9 out of 10 executives may be ignoring the elephant in the room.

The survey revealed that about 22 percent of Generation X employees are actively job hunting.  Even more alarming, only 37 percent plan to remain with their current employers.  Employers might find Generation Y a little stickier when it comes to retention but even then 44 percent plan to stay put over the next year.

Employee retention isn’t the only thing that executives and employees appear to disagree on. When asked to rank their top three retention tactics, employees chose in every instance different non-financial incentives than the executives. Even greater differences existed when executives were asked to identify retention strategies that might appeal to different generations.

For instance, Gen Y and executives agreed that additional compensation and bonuses were effective.  But that’s where agreement broke down.  While 29 percent of the executives believe flexible work arrangements were what Gen Y wanted, nearly 4 out of 10 Gen Y employees said they wanted job advancement opportunities.  Generation X wants a job with good wages but are only willing to stay if they can learn new skills too.

Like they’ve done many times in the past, Baby Boomers break the mold on retention strategies too.

Baby Boomers are looking for strong leadership, additional bonuses, and more compensation. Executives offer benefits, bonuses and flexible work arrangements.

Based on the results of this survey, executives are offering money and flexibility while the three most active generations in the workplace want opportunity, bonuses, and compensation.  Executives need to learn that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to employee retention and stop using the recession as their primary retention strategy.

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Surge in Seniors Strains Economy and Caregivers

Republicans thought people could save for it. Democrats thought government could provide it. Both are wrong. Caring for an aging population is beginning to strain our economy and stress out a rising legion of caregivers.

Political parties have taken turns over the past 50 years controlling government and they have both failed to solve the problem. Now we are stuck in neutral and rolling backwards.

By 2020, forty-three states will see an increase of over 70 percent in their 65 and over population compared with just 20 years earlier. And 29 states will see an increase of 70 percent in their 85 and over population during the same period. In fact, only 1 state, Arkansas, will see an increase of less than 50 percent in both the 65- and 85 and older demographics.

This is an amazing success story in longevity, but a problem that the government, our friends and neighbors, and the economy is unprepared to absorb.

First of all, nearly all retirement and health care projections are based on a working population capable of supporting older residents. Unfortunately the percentage of working age adults is decreasing. In 2010, 60 percent of the U.S. is aged 20-64. By 2030, the proportion of these working ages will drop to 55 percent. The age dependency ratio, the proportion of seniors to workers, will almost double over the next 20 years — from 21 per 100 workers to 39.

This “silver tsunami” is also creating a legion of people caring for adults and the elderly. Twenty-nine percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.

American caregivers are predominantly female (66%) and are an average of 48 years old. That puts working Baby Boomers in their prime working years balancing a career with caring for aging parents and raising their own children. The sandwich generation, as this group had been called, often reduces the number of hours they work. An even greater number continues to work but loses focus and becomes more stressed. For employers this translates to lower productivity, more accidents and mistakes, and the loss of talent.

As the aging tsunami breaks on the shores of our economy, new challenges will alter the workplace landscape. Political parties are clearly divided on how to fix the problems. Solutions will come from individuals and local communities. Employers that recognize opportunity in this sea of change will reap the benefits as our workforce and nation grows older.

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Generational Views on Career Challenge Employers

The more things change, the more different generations of workers become the same, suggests a new study about generational views on careers from Robert Half. The research shows that workers of all ages have a new appreciation for company stability when making career decisions. Yet, four out of 10 professionals polled said they are more inclined to look for new opportunities outside their firms as a result of the recession.

Cross-generational teams bring challenges and rewards. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of hiring managers said managing multigenerational work teams poses a challenge. But more than one-third of workers polled felt having a group of employees at different experience levels increases productivity.

What are the most significant generational differences when it comes to workforce planning?

  • Generational views on next career steps differ. For Gen Y, looking for a new job is the most common post-recession career plan, whereas Gen Xers polled said they are more inclined to update their skills. For baby boomers surveyed, staying put at their companies was the most commonly cited post-recession career plan.
  • More Gen Yers (36 percent) than Gen Xers (30 percent) and baby boomers (24 percent) planned to look for new job opportunities.
  • Gen Xers polled were more inclined to enhance their skills sets (38 percent) and build tenure with their companies (33 percent) in the aftermath of the recession than other generations.
  • A greater percentage of baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (46 percent) or Gen Y (39 percent) respondents said they will work past the traditional retirement age.
  • More Gen Xers (34 percent) than baby boomers (27 percent) said they had increased their retirement savings since the recession began.
  • More baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (45 percent) or Gen Y (35 percent) employees identified the greatest challenge when working with multiple generations as having differing work ethics and approaches to work/life balance; more Gen Yers attributed difficulties to differing communication styles (29 percent for Gen Y versus 16 percent for both Gen X respondents and baby boomers).

But different generations don’t always see the world differently? Many generation similarities do exist.

Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of “Human Resources Kit For Dummies,” second edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

  • For all generations surveyed, working for a stable company and having job security were two of the most important aspects of the work environment, beating out having a short commute or working for a socially responsible company.
  • When evaluating employment offers, salary, company stability and benefits were the most important factors for all three generations.
  • Health care coverage, dental coverage, vacation time and 401(k) matching were the highest valued benefits for all generations surveyed.
  • The most commonly cited benefit of being part of multigenerational work teams was bringing together various experience levels to provide knowledge in specific areas.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. “

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Isn’t text messaging today just Morse Code v2.0?

When Samuel Morse sent the first electronic message from the U.S. Capitol to his partner in Baltimore nearly 170 years ago, he typed “What hath God wrought?”  I believe nearly every parent of a teenager today might be muttering the same words.

We are in the midst of four distinct generations of Americans trying to communicate with one another using different media.  Communication gaps between parents and kids or managers and employees are nothing new. It’s been the subject of thousands of books.  Experts have made millions and millions of dollars prescribing remedies to bridge the gaps and mend fences. But they’ve seen nothing like the gaps occurring today between the Veterans (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (1965-79), and Millennials (born 1980-1999)… or have they?  Has anything really changed over the past 170 years?

Take the phone for example: According to Nielsen Mobile, in the first quarter of 2009, the average U.S. teen made and received an average of 191 phone calls and sent or received 2,899 text messages per month. By the third quarter, the number of texts had jumped to a whopping 3,146 messages per month, which equals more than 10 texts per every waking non-school hour.  Just for the sake of comparison, at the beginning of 2007, those numbers were 255 phone calls and 435 text messages.

It’s hard to believe that little handheld device we used to call a phone is quickly joining the transitor radio and 8-track cassette in flea markets and garage sales.  Don’t believe me? Just try calling anyone born during the 90s or later.  Good luck on getting a real person on the other end to answer it. Voice mail? Good luck on getting a listen before it’s deleted. Email? You’ve got to be kidding. That’s old school, baby.

That makes the term “phone” almost obsolete. Using that mobile device to call someone is just a vestige of old technology. The older Millennials, also referred to as the iGeneration because these young people have been raised on the iPod and the Wii, rarely if ever use their “phone” to call someone. They communicate almost exclusively by instant messaging and Facebook. (I intentionally excluded Twitter because contrary to popular belief, young people “don’t get Twitter.”)

This explosion of text messages, tweets, and updates of non-verbal communication is stunning.  It has many peoples’ shorts tied up in a bunch. “How will kids today ever learn how to communicate?,” is often the cry heard from multi-generational training audiences.  And the spelling and grammar? “Well…it’s horrific,” parents and teachers proclaim. But historians might see this revolution in communication as just another lesson in history repeating itself. 

Isn’t instant messaging today just Morse Code v2.0?  What’s changed since Morse tapped in that first message? Upon brief reflection, it seems eerily familiar. One person taps a bunch of keys on an electronic device which transmits a message to another party. Only this time the code, all those texting abbreviations that drive grammar and spelling cops crazy, is translated on the spot by the recipient. 

Ironically even Morse’s first message reverberates loudly with today’s texting dissidents — “What hath God wrought?”  It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Sizemore sizes up ‘Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization’ in HS Dent Forecast

In one of those “this made by day” moments, a friend of mine forwarded a review of my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization.  The review was written by Charles Sizemore at HS Dent and published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast. Not only was I pleased – no, ecstatic – over the author’s insight and comments, it was especially rewarding because it was completely unsolicited and unanticipated.

The book review in its entirety is posted below.

“What is a generation?” asks Ira Wolfe in his new book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization. “A generation is a group of people who are programmed by events they share in history while growing up… a common set of memories, expectations, and values based on headlines and heroes, music and mood, parenting style, and education systems.”

I would agree with this definition, and would add that it ties in with the concept of generation gap. Parents (and sometimes even older siblings) often do not “get” their kids. They don’t understand their vocabulary. They don’t understand what motivates them. And they absolutely, for the life of them, cannot understand why a pieced eyebrow is cool. (Who am I to criticize…in my childhood, coolness was defined by acid-washed jeans that were tightly rolled around the ankles and permed hair and makeup on male rock stars. Go figure.)

Mr. Wolfe’s book is an interesting study on the relationships between the generations in the workplace. It’s very similar in substance to the generational work done by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Generations, The 4th Turning, Millennials Rising), but it’s much less academic and, frankly, quite a bit easier to digest. Corporate executives who find themselves managing a multigenerational workforce should find the book quite valuable, as should anyone struggling to understand the generation gap in their own home, for that matter.

Wolfe speaks of the generations as if they were single members of a large family. At this stage in their careers, the Baby Boomer managers are “parents,” while the Echo Boomer employees are “kids.” Generation X, stuck in the middle as always, is analogous to an unloved older stepchild, cut off from the nurturing love fest between the Boomers and Echo Boomers.

Of Generation X, Wolfe writes “Coming of age in the shadow of the Baby Boomers virtually ensured that this generation would be overlooked and ignored; like Great Britain’s Prince Charles, they are the workplace ‘heirs apparent,’ waiting endlessly and impatiently to assume leadership.”

And like the unfortunate Prince Charles, their waiting has no end in sight. Gen X is hitting a “gray ceiling,” as the incumbent Boomers refuse to retire and make room at the top. But while Gen X waits for its chance to take the reins, Gen Y is slowly coming up behind them. Given the symbiotic relationship between the Boomers and their “Mini Me,” the Echo Boomers, Gen X is right to worry about being leapfrogged.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Gen X is a very entrepreneurial generation; with the Baby Boomer generation acting as an 80-million-person roadblock to their career advancement, it is understandable that Gen Xers believe that their best chance to excel is through starting their own businesses. Of course, Gen X also watched their parents and older brothers suffer through the layoffs and restructurings of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Seeing quality professionals lose their jobs through no fault of their own made Generation X grow up a little cynical and mistrusting of large companies.

Wolfe also has a secondary theory for Generation X’s independence and somewhat prickly demeanor. While the Echo Boomers were the “trophy kids” who were coddled from birth by their well-intentioned soccer moms who slathered them in antibacterial hand wash every time they left the house, Gen X was the “latch-key kid” generation. They had to fend for themselves at a young age. They also weren’t required by law to wear a helmet and knee pads every time they rode their bike to school, nor were they required to sit in a car kiddy seat until puberty. In short, they weren’t smothered by their mothers (or by the “nanny state”), and they were allowed to be kids — little Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers who got into a lot of trouble but ended up stronger for it.

Don’t underestimate this personality characteristic; you don’t realize how valuable it is until you see the alternative: the neediness of the Echo Boomers (also called the “Millennials” and “Gen Y”). In smothering their children with things like “My kid is an honors student” bumper stickers, the Baby Boomers have created a codependent monster in the Echo Boomers they raised. Echo Boomers require constant attention and affirmation in the workforce. They’re emotional and oversensitive. And they don’t understand why it’s not ok to wear an eyebrow piercing into a place of business if you want to be taken seriously or that it’s rude to have your face buried in a text message when someone is talking to you. (This is my personal pet peeve. Though she is now a married professional in her mid-20s and generally has good manners, my Echo Boomer kid sister has the annoying habit of doing the “Blackberry prayer” when I’m trying to talk to her. Her husband does it too. It’s maddening.)

Wolfe does an excellent job of describing the frustrations felt by managers today:

At school, teachers accentuate the positive. Kids no longer fear the bad report card — teachers do. This generation was treated so delicately that many schoolteachers stopped grading papers and tests in harsh-looking red ink to avoid bruising the child’s precious self-esteem. Managers in turn must now tread lightly when making even the most benign critique…

How did these kids get this way? For many Millennials, few “accomplishments” didn’t rate some type of acknowledgement. In games, it was common for everyone to receive a trophy — win or lose — thus the name “trophy kids…” The lesson shifted from “second place is the first place for losers” to “everyone who plays is a winner.”

This generational tension is a bit ironic. While many managers and most of the media targets the kids, the blame might fall squarely on the very people doing the loudest complaining — doting parents, teachers and coaches. After all, the grumbling Baby Boomer managers are the same indulgent parents who raised the millennial generation after starting families late in life or vowing not to make the same mistake twice with children from second and third marriages.

Wolfe, a graying Baby Boomer, is certainly no crotchety old man wagging his finger at “kids these days.” Quite to the contrary. (If anything, it is me, your younger Gen X writer who fits that description.) Wolfe sees a lot of untapped potential in this young generation. What I might consider a short attention span, an inability to focus, and insufficient attention to detail, Wolfe calls “hyperalertness,” defined here as an “advanced form of mental flexibility.” I would consider instant messaging three friends while simultaneously uploading photos to Facebook, blogging about rock bands, playing Second Life, and listening to an iPod to be a colossal waste of time of absolutely no economic value. I certainly wouldn’t call it “multitasking.” But I guess that makes me old school.

At any rate, Mr. Wolfe’s objective is not to pass judgment. His objective is to help managers better understand those under their control. And on this front, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization is a useful too. I’d recommend this book to anyone in a position of authority over a multigenerational workforce.

Charles Sizemore, CFA

This book review was originally published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast.

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