YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council) surveyed some more folks about how to approach Boomers and GenXers. Here are the responses.
A young leader walks into an office full of Boomers and GenXers… what is the first thing she should do to win over the team?
1. Be Genuinely Respectful
Just as it should be when meeting any new individual, no matter what age, a young leader should show their respect and manners. No matter what generation, asking how one another are, offering them beverages or snacks and saying “Please” and “Thank You” is always appreciated. But it’s also important for a young leader to be themselves and show off what makes them different.
It’s impressive these days to have someone’s full attention and not see them attached to their gadgets. There are times when we have to disconnect to allow for complete focus, especially when meeting someone or a group for the first time; regardless of age. A potential turn off for many would be to stop and check messages or send a text while in a discussion.
When interacting with experienced professionals, take note of their dress code preference and follow it. Stand when the Boomer or GenXer enters the room, and wait for the Boomer or GenXer to initiate the meal if it’s a business lunch. These tips help bridge the generational gap and make Boomers and GenXers feel both at ease and appreciated.
Whenever you enter a new environment, you have to spend some time listening and understanding how people think and operate. In a diverse company with GenXers and Boomers there will be interesting managerial challenges. So at first you have to ask a lot of questions and listen before finalizing an action plan.
5. Make It Clear You’re Willing to Go the Extra Mile
The baby boomer workforce mentality values making sacrifices to get ahead in life, and GenXers are focused on generating revenue. You don’t have to overextend yourself or be inauthentic, but make it clear by your actions and words that you’re focusing on generating results and willing to put in the hard work. They’ll see you as much more trustworthy than the stereotypical GenYer or Millennial.
Proving that you’re qualified to lead a team is more than just rattling off past accomplishments. Come in with an open attitude but a strategic plan to improve processes, etc. and get the respect of the group from the get-go by working together.
7. Ask Questions That Show You Value Their Experience
Boomers and GenXers have a wealth of experience that can be a huge asset if you show genuine respect and curiosity. Ask them about how the current situation you’re facing relates to something from their past. Boomers and GenXers will appreciate that you recognize their expertise on people and business strategy, and that you’re finding meaningful ways to rely on their strengths.
Older teammates won’t cut you as much slack, so it’s important that you walk into the meeting completely prepared. Have any talking points thoroughly written out and make sure you’ve reviewed any important details before the meeting. Speak articulately and slow down — they care about the quality of what comes out of your mouth, not how many words per minute you can speak.
I’ve found that being genuine is the best way to win people over, regardless of their age. Like any relationship, you need to develop a foundation which involves dialog; both talking and listening. I’m confident while expressing my ideas, passion, vision and goals — without being arrogant. I’m also cognizant of showing respect and honest interest in learning what others can bring to the table.
Boomers and GenXers feel as though the majority of Millennials are self-centered and entitled. The key is to approach relationship building with concrete, validated experience that speaks to their perspective. You have to show them that you have the chops to do what you’re doing, while placing experience over age consistently in your communication and your actions.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective (http://businesscollective.com), a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.