Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baby Boomer Edition, revisited

Baby Boomers Thanks everyone, for your very thoughtful and thought-provoking comments on my previous entry about generational differences in the workplace. In fact, you all got me to thinking so much (My God, people...what have you done?!) that I wanted to write a little bit more about this.

First of all, I don't want anyone to think that I was generalizing and saying that anyone who belongs to any of these generations is always a certain way. I've worked with many different people of all ages, and I realize that there are always exceptions to any rule.

Mark wonders what Gen X and Millennials (referred to in the article I read as Millenials...there should be an extra n) have left to strive for, after the Greatest Generation pretty much did it all. I have to disagree with you there, Mark, because while I do believe our Greatests paved the way for what was to come, and helped to make our country a prosperous, vital, strong nation (and remember, my parents are Greatests!), there is always more to be done, more to be discovered. I believe we are currently facing a crisis of epic proportions, one that encompasses energy, the economy, terrorism, the environment, healthcare reform...did I forget anything? The crisis has changed from that of my parents' generation, but we have our own set of challenges to face and overcome. Can it be done? I believe so. Will it be done? That remains to be seen. That's one of the reasons I'm such a strong advocate of science education--we still need the best and brightest working on solutions to our current problems.

Gen X Charley had a great point about whether the blame for Gen X and Millennial attitudes lies squarely upon the shoulders of those who raised them: the Baby Boomers. That may very well be, because the loose attitude of Boomers surely contributed to any feelings of entitlement in subsequent generations. The Boomers were also a big part of the rampant greed of recent decades, which is ironic considering the peace, love, and understanding movement of the sixties. (And really, what's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?) The article I read referred to the T-ball generations, and I think that's a perfect way to put it: everyone's a winner, no one's a loser, and nobody keeps score. What kind of game is that?

Does anyone remember the episode of "How I Met Your Mother," in which Marshall coaches a little kids' basketball team? His wife informs him that they don't keep score, it's just a matter of playing, and everyone feeling good about themselves. Marshall almost implodes, because that concept is just so alien to him. I'm the same way, and so is Ken. When we play games, there is no such thing as letting the other one win. We were that way with the kids when they came to visit, too. Part of becoming an adult is learning that there are rules, and if you want to win, you have to play to win. My folks were the same way with Mom would always beat me at Chinese Checkers. Come to think of it, she still does.

Millennials I think I've gotten off-topic. Charley also wondered if the younger generations aren't onto something about a better balance between work and home life. I actually agree with that, and as I wrote to him this morning, I was definitely feeling that the last few years of my work life. When I was working in Indianapolis, I was involved in several committees, really into it, wanting to have a hand in things (without really wanting to be a supervisor). I remember my Dad telling me, "Just remember, honey...there's more to life than work." When I was single and living in an apartment, work definitely filled a gap. When I got married again and we moved into a house with property, I had a priority shift, and realized that I didn't want to spend long hours at work, and I wanted to walk out of there at the end of the day and leave it behind me. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, and I want to enjoy time with family rather than saying, "No, I can't make it, I have to work that weekend." Maybe the younger generations have already figured that out, and are to be commended for teaching the rest of us that there is more to life than work. (My Dad said it first, though, so there.) But they need to keep in mind that the job still needs to get done, and that there are many things they can learn from those who have a bit more experience.

Is there a way to balance work and home life? Can we rethink our way of working and become more flexible in how we handle staffing? High speed Internet certainly allows for more work being done at home, and for many professions, that can be very helpful (not so much with healthcare). Technology has improved our efficiency; how can we use that to our advantage to get the work done and still find time to play and actually enjoy our lives? How do we achieve that balance?


  1. Sometimes, when we get so entwined in things at work, it is time to seek a new assignment and cut some of the threads. That brings new challenges, but also new opportunities to not be the bottleneck, and most importantly, less hours.

  2. Just dropping by to tell you hello....

  3. many many parents raised their kids as their friends.....letting them get away with things they should have controlled....never saying the kid what they, the parent, never had....and so you have millions of American young adults that go to work and actually for the 1st time are held accountable and they have no idea what to do....why...well, mom and dad always took care of it.....and management has to deal with this and it burdens everyone else. For many in the U.S. today they are just trying to find a way to eat tonight...and be able to afford the rent/house pymt, keeping the lights on, and finding money for gas to get to work. The thought of finding a balance between work and home life or outside interests is like getting on a spaceship to MARS--not in their orbit because their day to day life is so exhausting.

  4. hmm ... first, I remember that particular episode, and my Mom was where I got a LOT of my fierceness from. Play to win, or stay on the bench. No time for friend in the field of play. Too many lessons to find out by competition.

    When I say that there aren't anything left to do, I guess I mean the eye opening discoveries that alters the way we percieve what is possible.

    'Star Trek' is now real, because your parents went to the moon. The ability to actuall picture how it may happen is because of that class of people.

    The were the ones that proved with out a doubt that all men and women are equal under the sun. They saved the world and made the way we look at one another change.

    The material things that are being dealt with are IMO, the result of a character deficit. Are they to blame for the sense of entitlement that is everywhere? Because there is so much irony today, I don't know if the current sense of we are all together in the various crisis is due to the 'chic' of being a green, diverse person who listens to hip hop, or because everyone else is doing it.

    Oppression is still as great as ever, and those are the people who are losing hope. Yr Ma and Da were the people who brought hope into the American society.

    There isn't a sense of 'hope' around. I think that it is desparation. And that is nearer to another dark 'D' word, despair.

    But that is me.

  5. First, I must preface this by saying I'm a very lucky woman. I'm my own boss, and I'm not dependent on my business to provide all of my living expenses. However, owning a business like this has taught me about responsibility in a way that having a normal job never did. I have learned to be determined to get to my "job" every single day, despite certain challenges (such a 2-hour drive each way). I take pride in my attendance record and the efforts I put into the work I do. My mind set is "Work is fun", although we all know that's not always the case in any job. If people could feel this sense of ownership in what they do, even if they're not the boss, productivity would increase by leaps and bounds. But it's up to the owners and employers to instill this ethic in their employees, and that is seldom done effectively. Steps should be taken to see that ALL people in ALL jobs feel a sense of pride and importance in what they do, and should feel as happy going to work as they feel coming home (well, almost). Idealistic, I admit, nevertheless it's a goal to strive for.

  6. I think I may not belong in this class. One thing about we elders, we knew we had to give our all at any job and at home. I did not go to college nor any of my kids but we were and are, in our own way probably better than some of the colege kids that go to college to PARTY at what we do with our life.

  7. I'm wrestling with how to strike a healthy balance between work and having a life outside of work. As always, you've given me much to think about, only I don't really have time to do so because there is so much to do at work!

  8. In my 20's I was pretty work my 30's, not so much. I realized I didn't like working with a lot of people who didn't hold the same expectations and work ethics I did. So, I started my own business. Now, my work is tailored around my family life, my personal time etc. Sadly, it now bores the hell out of me, so I'm in the process of changing things up a bit. I hope I've showed my daughters there are options in life, but above all, it takes work and accountability to do things right. We shall see if it's rubbed off on them.......


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?