GenX, GenY, Baby Boomers and HR Predictions for 2013

GenY wants to run the world and there is nothing wrong with that. Baby Boomers and GenXers need to be willing to step up and mentor this group. For 2013, I boldly predict the generations will come together and get this right.

Generational divides are big. I get it. When I was 23, I did not want to “pay my dues” and felt I was ready for a promotion after six months on the job. I was fortunate, though, to have a manager take me under his wing and teach me the business.  He drew a “40 year career” on a piece of paper in the form of a 10 inch line. He then showed my first two years on this line at the first half inch and the remaining 38 years as the rest of the 9.5’ line. (Yes, I just used some math.) While I had a lot of enthusiasm, there was still a lot I had to learn and there was plenty of time to learn it. He gave me opportunities to learn, fail, succeed and lead. I gave him the leadership and mentorship he needed. It’s a two-way street.

I have read countless articles about the generational gaps and why each generation is wrong, but why are Baby Boomers and GenXers so reluctant to train and mentor GenY? And why is GenY resisting this gift of knowledge and leadership?

As HR professionals, we must encourage ways to foster these relationships. This gives a sense of fulfillment for the Baby Boomers and GenXers and creates new opportunities and injects new responsibilities into a potentially stale job.

The role of mentor isn’t for everyone. There may be some underlying fear of losing a job to lower compensated employee. Mentorship is important for every organization, though. There is a potential opportunity for companies to bring in new talent to train for the future while giving longer tenured employees a new responsibility. Without a great mentor program, how much information and knowledge could potentially be lost if not transitioned appropriately?  GenY could enter the workforce with a sense of encouragement, the gift of mentorship and the pride to uphold and enhance the legacy set before them. 

Big companies are sitting on tons of cash and not hiring while staring at an aging workforce with no contingency plans. HR is screaming from the mountaintop about this issue. GenY wants to move up quickly, have flexibility and change the world? Fantastic! Let’s go.

As strategic HR leaders, we talk about knowledge management, the aging workforce and the skills gap. As HR leaders, there has to be a fundamental shift in our thinking on this issue. We have to take action and harness all the energy within the generations. Try something bold. Try something different. Start mentoring a Millennial.



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