Three Tips to Working with Boomer Colleagues

Three Tips to Working with Boomer Colleagues

“Let’s take this viral!” 

“What’s my password for _______?” 

“Back in my day…” 

 

If these sound familiar, you may have a Baby Boomer in your office. 

We share these examples in jest – the Baby Boomer / Millennial dynamic is best studied with little levity.   The fact is  - these two generational bookends have plenty to offer the financial services industry.  Baby Boomers offer years of business and life experience, fantastic instincts, and well-refined verbiage.  Millennials are light on experience, but (should be) high on drive, resourcefulness and creativity.

We thought it might be helpful to offer some tips for younger advisors working with Baby Boomer colleagues.  Done properly, you leverage the best of what both age groups have to offer.

 

1. Share your technology skills freely, not begrudgingly. 
We shouldn’t forget that Millennials are “digital natives” and Boomers are “digital immigrants.”  The Millennials on the team should look at technology questions as an opportunity to educate Boomers.  Be Patient!  Just because you know that Control + C is a keyboard shortcut for “Copy,” it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. 

Make an effort to teach other team members, pull them if you must, into the world of social media.  Some Boomer advisors resist getting into LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.  You could do them a great service by helping setup their profile and teaching them the basics of ongoing maintenance.

 

2. Understand how Boomers make decisions.
As we age, the ways in which we make decisions changes.  Good, bad or indifferent, we become more trusting, prefer fewer options, and rely more heavily on our intuitions. 

From a team communication perspective, this means walking into the Boomer advisor’s office with a pared down list of 2-3 options instead of 6-8.  Studies at Cornell have shown they make better decisions this way and are happier with these decisions.

 

3. Communicate on their terms.
Chances are that your Boomer colleagues place higher value on face-to-face conversation and telephone calls than texting and tweeting.  They grew up in an era where those mediums weren’t even around. 

So even if you think that email is a superior means of communication, remember to reach for the phone or take a walk down the hall for a conversation with your Boomer colleagues.  They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll likely arrive at a quicker and better outcome.  If you’d like the electronic trail – put your conversation into an email directly afterwards.

 

Generational differences can be challenging sometimes - no doubt about it.  But you’re all there for the same reason, right?  You want to build an elite business that services clients at the highest levels.  Take a few extra moments, alter your style to match your colleagues, and get the most out of your respective skillsets.

 

 

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com

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