Blending Generations in the Engineering Workplace

Here's a look at how to get past the Baby Boomer and Millennial stereotyping and start focusing on the individuals and the values inherent in having a workplace team with age diversity.
baby boomer millenial
Image source: Pixabay

So much is written these days regarding the polarization of the generations. It is common to hear generalizations about boomers and millennials.

How often have you heard this about boomers: “Boomers are closed-minded. They lack creativity. They’re unable to learn and adapt. They can’t keep up with the fast pace of development and evolving technology”? On the other hand, have you heard phrases about millennials like: “They are lazy. They act entitled. There’s no strong work ethic. They are closed to new ideas from those outside their age group”?

We need to get past the stereotyping and start focusing on the individuals and the values inherent in having a workplace team with age diversity. Certainly, there are individuals in all age groups who may exhibit these negative behaviors. Likewise, there are individuals in both age groups who exhibit the best behaviors attributed to any one age group. Let’s get over it and move on to building a high-performance team with individuals of all ages. Here’s how to leverage high-performance individuals in both age groups to build a top-notch team.

Hire the Right Boomers
1.    Look for those who are open minded
Nothing shuts down collaboration faster than a closed-minded person unwilling to listen to or respect the opinions of their younger staff members. You want the good listeners  that are open-minded.
2.    Find team members who are still willing to learn
It’s a myth that boomers are old dogs than cannot learn new tricks. Seek out team members with a thirst for knowledge and who not only are open to new ideas but are pro-actively seeking out new challenges. Lifelong learners such as these folks do exist.
3.    Look for team members with high energy and creativity
Many of those in the boomer generation have incredible levels of energy and creativity. Given that this article is about engineers, we are not looking for creativity for the pure sake of innovation. We are looking for creativity that can readily develop into a product opportunity that meets a real market demand or satisfy unmet needs. Combine high creativity individuals with a high level of experience and the quality of ideation is enhanced.
4.    Engineers who are willing to share and mentor are key
What good is all the knowledge built up in an engineering career if that knowledge is not shared and passed on to others? The right boomers can be an incredible asset in building up the expertise and skills of less experienced staff members.
5.    Look for team members committed to the team goal
Don’t believe the stereotype that all boomers are tired, resting on their laurels and so uninspired and that they are not committed to team goals. Look past these stereotypes for those who are motivated and excited about new challenges. Such engineers can be the gems on your team.


Find the Right Millennials
1.    Look for those who are open minded
This is very similar to the mindset you want from boomers. Nothing shuts down collaboration faster than a closed-minded person who has stereotyped views about

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