I may be old but I am a Millennial!

I may be old but I am a Millennial! - People Development Network
I may be old but I am a Millennial! - People Development Network

Are you a millennial at heart?

Full Disclosure: I am a Baby Boomer.

Having said that, much has been written and discussed about the generation that is just about to replace Baby Boomers, like me, in the workforce. I feel they have been maligned and accused of various things ranging from being totally lazy to fully incompetent. This is unjustified. Let’s explore the reasoning for this supposition.

To begin with, let’s start with my generation. We were supposed to be the change agents. I can only imagine how my own parents felt when I decided to grow my hair longer, dress differently and behave radically different from them. After we were educated, I am not sure we took the changes we believed in and made a difference in other’s lives. We got consumed in “consumerism” and wanted bigger and better things than our parents had, including cars, homes, bank account, you name it. We set out in the workforce and were quickly overwhelmed by corporate systems that basically forbade us from making a change. As a result, we became part of the system. We failed to challenge tenets of things such as performance appraisal and the need for face time. We went along to get along which resulted in a lot of late nights, having become accustomed to monetary recognition, perhaps even avarice.

Consequently, our children were born into a material world. However, I’m not convinced Millennials are materialistic. They came of age in a world of computers and more importantly, information. It is this tenet, information, that separates my generation from that of our children. They know how to use information in ways unheard of in my prime time. It is my belief that this information, which my generation doesn’t understand, has made the next generation so powerful. They multi-task extremely well and are hyper-connected to various media.

A Millennial doesn’t subscribe to the status quo. Millenials make a difference by leveraging technology to their advantage and indeed they are changing the world. Case in point, imagine my generation trying to organize any sort of protest. We would rely on word of mouth, posters, etc. However, look at how rapidly the Millennials can get things done. Through the adroit use of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they can organize something in a matter of minutes!

However, they also know how to leverage technology for very useful things. And at the end of the day, they want to be left alone. They don’t mind working, but they do mind doing things in an insane way. They question things as my generation wanted to but were afraid to. After all, we were trying to protect our status and future. Did it pay off? I am thinking no, it didn’t. We were slaves to the system and the system many times simply overwhelmed the individual. We accepted the status quo, often to our own detriment. We were downsized, right-sized and all other sizes that come to mind.

The Millennials don’t want any of this. Mess with me? Well, Mr. Corporate Executive /manager/ supervisor and I will go off and do something different!

And they do.

Millennials also understand results better than we ever did, but results mean something different to them. As I said they want to deliver but they want to be left alone when they have produced. They have trouble understanding things such as face time, keeping their head down and pretending to be busy when the assignment is done. They do not like to be judged through a system of the annual appraisal. They want and demand development, but not development in the old-fashioned, traditional way. They want a voice in their future because they need to truly make a difference. They simply don’t subscribe to the control systems typical organizations place on people. They also see a future free of discrimination and the resulting haves and have nots.

My generation had their shot. I oftentimes think we failed. Today, at my rapidly advancing age, I find myself more in alignment with millennials than those of my own generation. The last of the Baby Boomers turned 50 in 2014. It’s time to embrace a newly styled workforce with new and improved methods surrounding the concept of work in the 21st century.

Now, if I could only figure out how to use my smartphone more efficiently…

George Garrett
George Garrett, SPHR. SHRM-SCP is a founding member of Future Focus Group, LLC, based in Houston, TX. George has spent his entire career in human resources leadership and consulting. He has contributed to and written extensively for several publications in both the US and Europe. He is certified by both the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) as a senior practitioner. George also holds a certification in Employee Relations Law from the Institute for Applied Management and Law. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster through Toastmasters International and delivers powerful, engaging talks regarding the changing field of human resources. George is a Texas native and co-author of “Evolved…Engaging People, Enhancing Success”, released in late 2014.
George Garrett
George Garrett
George Garrett

Latest posts by George Garrett (see all)

1 Comment

  • garygruber says:

    Whoa! I was born in 1937, still coming out of the Great Depression. I am still working albeit part time and that’s most enjoyable but here’s what I found described about the pre-Boomer generation and I don’t fit many of these descriptions. Perhaps I have always been more of a radical, a rebel and certainly a liberal, left leaning activist. I never was silent nor am I retired in the classic sense of that word. I am glad to report I have found many in my generation still active, productive, healthy, leading interesting lives with most of our senses intact. I have changed over the years and yet much is still the same. It’s a paradox, meaning that I am often contrary to public opinion. That’s the literal translation of paradox, from the Greek word in case you’re interested.


    Born 1927- 1945.
    Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!
    Korean and Vietnam War generation.
    The First Hopeful Drumbeats of Civil Rights!
    Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
    Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.
    The richest, most free-spending retirees in history.
    Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
    In grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class.
    They are avid readers, especially newspapers.
    “Retirement” means to sit in a rocking chair and live your final days in peace.
    The Big-Band/Swing music generation.
    Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.
    Disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.

    You can find the other gen descriptions here: http://www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/ For myself and my 70 years of learning, I documented some of the watershed learning experiences in this tiny memoir, “Seven Decades: A Learning Memoir.” For an easy, quick read: http://tinyurl.com/ngshjm4

Leave a Reply