Among twenty- and thirtysomethings the myth persists that smarts and skills trump all other qualities. That’s unfortunate since the fifty- and sixtysomethings to whom they report still value attitude more than smarts and skills. The oldies want people who are willing to do whatever they ask — and with enthusiasm! They want to be admired and liked.
Consider Boomer values. When they were new employees their bosses expected them to love the company and honor their bosses! They were taught to honor rank even if the current office holder was stupid and ineffective. Imagine how surprised Boomers are to be judged by their underlings! To see themselves and their decisions ridiculed on Facebook or in a negative tweet astounds then. The fact that what was written was factual is even more irritating.
Does this mean that younger employees have to pretend they think their bosses are wise? You bet. Hypocrisy delights Boomers and is much preferred to brutal honesty. (Note: All honesty is brutal.) It’s all part of the willingness equation. What happened to the child in the fairy tale who pointed out the emperor was naked? Did he survive the story? I don’t think so.
Less you see this as a call to indulge Boomer fantasies consider your own self-interest. If you know someone needs ego rations isn’t it self-defeating to withhold them? Do you want to learn enough to become self-employed or not? Irritating your teacher isn’t smart. In fact, you didn’t do it as a student so why do it now? A boss has even more power over you than a teacher.
The fact that Boomers refuse to articulate their real values — much less the criteria they use to judge you means you have to intuit the rules for success. If you’re not sure, watch the boss’s body language. If it’s positive and expansive there is someone who’s learned to manage the boss — always a career-enhancing skill.
Babying Boomer bosses while convincing them you are sincere is an important skill. One day you will have clients who expect the same treatment. May I never see a snarl on Facebook or a negative tweet with your name on it until you own the company!
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