Boomers: Management Fantasies That Never Come True

boomers as managers

Once upon a time, maybe as long ago as the 1980’s, those charged with managing organizations believed that the people they hired could be kept ignorant of such divisive facts as being underpaid, or could be bullied without consequence, or treated unfairly because, “What’s he going to do?  He’s got a non-working wife and two kids under five.”    Shouldn’t these fantasies, felonies, and misdemeanors be ancient history now?  Unfortunately, Boomers still believe in the following and they shouldn’t.

1.  Employees don’t know when they are paid below market.  No, Boomers, you may not know you’re underpaid but virtually all twenty- and thirtysomethings have done their homework and know.  That’s why they frequently resist any calls for greater effort and to “play on the team.”  If you’re paid less than others, you’re not on the team!  Older workers who are web savvy can find out in a heartbeat if what they’re earning is competitive.

2.  Employees are more independent-minded than Boomers were in the 80s. They don’t “love” the company.  They don’t want to be CEO. They are passing through on the road to self employment or to founding a not-for-profit.  Particularly those under 40 have made an important discovery:  If you under consume you can be free.  What has happened in the Great Recession?  Under consumption has become a religious principle.  (Ask retailers.)  Boomers still long for one in every color but the under 40 crowd has vowed to consume less as the price of freedom.  In the workplace it means that competent people — known as the best and brightest — will leave in a heartbeat if they feel abused — in any way — legal or not.

3.  Nine percent unemployment means millions of star workers are available for hire, cheap.  Managers don’t have  the ability to pick and choose they believe they have.  That’s why so many complain about not finding good help.  It’s a power play. The boss thinks:   “Maybe I can convince you that you are less competent than you believe and you’ll take guff and work for less.”  Let me report that virtually no one under 40 buys this.  They may appear compliant while they look for another job.  They will move on at personal convenience.

I had a client who worked for a screamer.  She was  60+ and would seem an ideal candidate for abuse.  “Who’d hire her?  She’s way old.”  She got another job at a 42 percent increase in salary!  It took her three months.  She did it this year and left the abusing boss  in the middle of a critical project. (Revenge is all it’s reported to be.  Sometimes it’s even better.)  When we celebrated it was better than 18-year-old Scotch.

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Related Posts:

What Happens When the Boomers Don’t Move On?

Managing the Office From a Distance

Boomers Turn 65 @ 7000 Per Day

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Filed under Boomers, Millennials and GenX, Office Politics