What Does the Silver Fox Say?

I might block my uncle on Facebook. 

He joined three weeks ago and has since commented on nearly every status I write. And we’re talking three- to four-sentence comments. On Thanksgiving, for example, I wrote, “I have a headache and I feel sick. Like ya do, Thanksgiving.”

Minutes later and four ‘likes’ deep, my uncle wrote, “I don’t understand—are people ‘liking’ the fact that you have a headache and feel sick?”

It’s not his fault. Trying to explain Facebook to some Baby Boomers is like trying to explain a retirement savings plan to some Millennials—it’s just lost in the generational gap. (I’m proud to say this Millennial has both a 401(k) and a Roth IRA.)

These generational challenges extend beyond Facebook. In today’s workforce, Baby Boomers and Millennials often appear at odds with one another. 

But according to Seth Mattison, Founder and Chief Movement Officer of FutureSight Labs, it’s all about meeting in the middle. 

According to Mattison, Boomers have to look for places to delegate. If you’re healthy and active and have no plans to slow down, it’s critical that you communicate this to your teams so up-and-coming leaders aren’t surprised when you’re still there next year, he says. 

“Why are you still here?” sounds like a super awkward question to answer as you ring in the New Year.

At the same time you have to start looking for opportunities for the next generation to step up. Look for places where you can delegate and offer meaningful projects that will engage future leaders. 

This does not include sending Millennials on latte runs.

Mattison says it’s also critical that the younger generation tap into the knowledge and perspective this Boomer generation has. Seek them out. Ask questions. Become a sponge. Learn everything you can. They may not be up on every single new piece of technology—Facebook—but don’t underestimate what 30+ years of navigating the industry has taught them. Tap into it before it’s gone!

According to Mattison, the most effective organizations find a way to celebrate the gifts each generation brings to the table and tap into the drivers that motivate all of us—the opportunity to do meaningful work, the chance to make an impact, to have a voice, and have a clear understanding of where the organization is going. These things prove more productive when it comes to driving engagement across the generations.

That being said, I’d ask that my uncle not “engage” on this blog. It’s nothing personal.

For more, check out “Meeting in the Middle” in the January issue of units Magazine, which mails Jan. 8.

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).