Milennial to Baby Boomer Gap

For the first time ever, we have five generations in the workplace at the same time. This is most profound in a technology like the Mainframe. Fortunately, today a lot of Organizations realize the importance of training the millennials with the aging mainframe workforce but the biggest challenge for majority of them is to make all these generations work as a single force to drive the organization growth.

With the advancement of internet and technology, dynamics of work force have completely changed. Internet-made millennials are very different from baby boomers when it comes to socializing, analyzing and consuming information. The new-age organizations like Netflix, Airbnb, and Facebook are a few such examples. So, are baby boomers going irrelevant in today’s world? No, I don’t think so. Their experiences, deep insights of the subject and process knowledge is of great value to any organization. In the world of Mainframes where we would want millennials to eventually take over and improvise, it is important to bridge this gap of the baby boomers’ emotional quotient(EQ) to the millennials’ digital quotient (DQ).

So, how do we bridge this gap? I think it’s important to make sure baby boomers realize that their experiences are invaluable to the organization growth, but they need to understand millennials work culture and train themselves to keep up with the changing dynamics of the work force. If not, they may become irrelevant.

And how do millennials need to approach baby boomers in order to train themselves? Here are five points which I believe are most critical to equip yourself to train in multi-age work force environment:

1) Build Trust

This is probably the important aspect of any learning. In my experience, I have seen many baby boomers feeling threatened and insecure in their jobs with the growing numbers of millennials. It is also the responsibility of the organization and the leaders to mention that their timeless wisdom is still needed to solve the modern-day problems. It is their Emotional EQ paired with their deep understanding of the subject matter, should complement the Millennials DQ. Providing right opportunities to the baby boomers and making them understand that they need to be an intern as much as a mentor.

2) Do your homework

Millennials are very different in the way we consume information – we expect instant answers to all of our questions. In the workforce, you can’t expect people to answer all your questions especially if they seem rudimentary. It is just as important to ask the right questions as it is to know the right answer. Make sure you do your homework before you ask your mainframe expert and ask the right questions. When I say right questions, I also meant to avoid questions that you can find answers by some basic googling.

3) Find your mentor

Once you have figured out what skills you need to grow in the world of the Mainframe, it is important to find a mentor. Your mentor will provide you the right direction in your path to learning. In a world where people are suffering from information overload, it is imperative to keep your mentor aware what you’re learning, so that you don’t lose focus on what you need for your job.

4) Create a Knowledge Database

Now that your learning has picked some pace, it is important to document what you’ve learned. This should go a long way in helping the new set of people to learn quickly and benefit from what you’ve learned. This might seem trivial but its relevance to the organization is significant because with the mainframe being critical to the business, it cannot be shared anywhere on the web other than the inhouse employees. You can think of this in the same light as documenting your code.

5) Collaborate

Millennials are very good at their ability to collaborate. They need to extend this natural ability at work in order to drive engagement and value. Look for ways to collaborate to equip your skill that you’re looking to develop. Today’s organizations encourage you to collaborate not just within but outside their organization to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and happenings in IT. We now have specific communities build to serve the purpose of learning and engagement. Make use of it under the guidelines of your organization.

Tousif, a millennial mainframer has over 10 years of Mainframe System Programming experience. Tousif is recipient of the CA Mainframe Academy Scholarship award for the year 2013. Tousif currently holds IBM System z and zOS Fundamentals Technical professional certification. Tousif writes regularly for many popular IT websites and also on his personal blog. Tousif passionately speaks about mainframe technologies at various conferences, symposiums and user groups. A consultant always eager to learn about new technologies and network with people having cutting-edge technical experience across social media platforms.
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