Q&A: Translating the Need for Change to Baby Boomers
I am a management consultant to creative industries. I began this work after noticing how many Gen X designers were fleeing their industries; struggling in companies that don’t fit their work and management styles or allow them to grow professionally.
Your ‘Outdated Management Myths’ speak to many of the issues I have tried to communicate with managers in creative firms. While Gen Xers and Ys are excited about rethinking management, I’ve struggled with translating the need for change to Baby Boomers. I understand that change is difficult and risky, especially in the current economy. However, without a sense of urgency and action, I fear the significant loss of talent we may face.
Do you have any recommendations for encouraging Baby Boomers to reevaluate current management styles? How to get them interested and on board?
Ah, what an important question! And one that is of serious concern to me, as well. I, too, have found that it is very difficult to help Boomers understand that their view of the world (“our” view, I must say, since I am one) is not necessarily shared by everyone.
Here’s my best trick: I ask them if they have children. If the answer is “yes,” I’m well on my way. I then ask them if their own children would like [to work in this company], [to abide by this practice], etc. This stops many Boomers in their tracks. I’ve had many say, “well, no, my child wouldn’t like this . . . “, to which I say, “I suspect other parents’ children won’t, as well.”
In other words, bring it down to the personal level. I once asked a leadership team of a major corporation how many of them had recommended to their own children that they apply for a job at this company. Not one hand was raised. And, in many ways, my job was done at that point. They had the message: if this isn’t a company they would recommend to their own children, on what basis would they recommend it to other children?
Boomers still have that idealistic streak that they developed as teens—it’s been buried for 30+ years, but you can tap into it if you get them thinking about building a corporation that their children would love.
All the best,
Filed under: Boomers | Published: 01/11/12
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