Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-G-Generation (Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?)


Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation

Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boy, the times they are indeed a-changin’.

That was the rallying cry of a couple of generations ago – “the first one now will later be last”, meant to take aim at the 1%, was adopted by a generation of lost souls, unable to connect to the reality of the American Dream their parents had subscribed to.

That same generation sang about the “Cats In The Cradle”, eschewing their own professional ambitions for family life with the kids. They sang ironically about money – “That’s What I Want”, though they wouldn’t buy a “Mercedes Benz”, and or be cooped up in “Little Boxes”. More than any other generation in the past, they questioned the status quo, bucking tradition in order to find their own path through the mystery that is Life.

Those same Boomers are now looking at not being able to end their careers any time soon. As the first of them have crossed the traditional retirement threshold of 65, fewer and fewer are looking at the possibility of actually retiring as their own parents did.

That generation brought women to the workplace, and although most women still earn less than their male counterparts doing the same exact job, a mere thirty years, since I was a kid, saw general acceptance of women as professionals, as managers, and as executives.

Much of my own teenage years were spent reading about these Boomers – and the effect that would be placed on the market when they started to retire. I read about how Social Security wouldn’t be able to stand the onslaught of retirees, how the quick and sudden vacuum of mid-to-senior level folks emigrating to Florida and Arizona would surely create a backlash on the ill-prepared, unprofessional slackers of my own Generation X.

Such talk has died – largely because the “Me” generation is unable to give up that spotlight. I’m not altogether sure what’s really happened to all the other “slackers” out there, but this one puts on a collared shirt every day and schleps into the office to make sure he can feed his wife and kids.

But as much as Generation X seems to have been forgotten as they try to straddle the old Baby Boomer world with that of the millennials, those of Generation Y are shaking a new life into the corporate world.

Generation Y

Generation Y (Photo credit: dalechumbley)

Raised on a steady diet of hundreds of TV channels (I was a teenager before my TV got more than five channels – and that, only on a fair-weather day when I could get those rabbit ears just right), high-speed internet access (no bing-bonging of a modem for them) and ubiquitous connectivity (ironically supported by cutting those phone cords that used to tether us to the kitchen wall), this new generation seems to be changing all the rules in the corporate world.

Sure, it seems they will have few “deep-thinking capabilities”, always able to search Google for an answer, and even fewer “face to face social skills”, thanks to Facebook and the like, but they make great analysts, and have few ties to the “that’s how it’s always been done” mentality.

Yes, the Recession has affected this generation too – making them almost as skittish as my own grandparents, children of the Great Depression, at the same time as making them as irreverent as my own “flower child” (at least nominally) parents. They don’t believe in hierarchies, titles and reporting to middle managers. They don’t see why they need to be in an office 40 hours a week, let alone why they should wear a suit and tie for the privilege of doing so.

What’s telling is how today’s generations do not learn from the past, instead condemning themselves to making the same mistakes, as their forebears. At the same time, though, while members of the younger generation seem to be making the same mistakes, at least they may be learning different lessons from it all.

In the end, the new boss might not be the same as the old boss after all.

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