Call it the Gray Ceiling
A generation of promising future leaders now in their late 20s to early 40s find themselves stuck, unable to move up because the pathways to advancement are blocked by 77 million Baby Boomers.
Sure, the oldest Boomers turn 60 this year, so they may retire soon - but the youngest are only 42, which means that plenty of Generation Xers face a long wait until their next promotion. (Read the story from Fortune.)
If you're a thirtysomething employee, have you ever bumped your head on the Gray Ceiling? What, if anything, did you do about it? And let's hear from Boomers, too. Any thoughts for the youngsters coming up behind you who want your job now?
How would you like to be one of the 77 million boomers? As corporations have flattened management levels - there are fewer opportunities for ALL of us. I'm a boomer in a large corporation looking outside for opportunities because of the log jam. My advice to all is to continue to learn, stay up with technology, take advantage of what your corporations offer by way of experience, training, educational assistance. Stay employable.
Baby boomers have done nothing for this country except push greed and divorce. The fact is that most Gen-x's can out work and think most boomers. However, because of their greed they won't allow Gen-x's to take the lead. The only way to beat boomers at their own game is to start your own business and stop filling their pockets.
I am a boomer who was "retired" and came back. Most boomers are not looking to retire or keep Generation "X" from taking over. I hate that term Generation X. We just want to work for you. Take us as a good tool to use to accomplish the job.
We may not need high salaries, just health care and vacation. Use us as advisors and people who can get the job done.
One of the big problem is that we may have created a battle ground in the company between the boomers and the generation. We can both have what we want but good long range planning is needed. The Generation needs to stop job hopping and the Boomers need to pass control. We can do it!
I'd have to agree that the folks that are five to fifteen years my senior (I'm nearing 40) are solidly ahead of me. Most of then became managers 10 years before I wiggled my way in (in their mid to late 20's, I was mid 30's). And... it doesn't seem that they're looking to retire before I will be. This is not just one company, I've worked at two in the last few years and both are the same.
I've taken the risks that my family will tolerate, but not really gotten as far as I'd like. I've gotten a PMP and gone back to school for my MBA just to have tiny chance.
By the time the more senior positions start to open up the folks 10 to 15 years younger than I will be right there with the experience to fill them in - leaving us out in the cold (as too old).
It is absolutely frustrating. I guess that I'm just used to it now.
As a boomer can recommend to Gen -X'ers to bide your time. When we retire there will be more work (and opportunity) than you can deal with; enjoy your time now because in the forseeable future the shortage of personnel will create a unprecedented competition for labor, and more leverage to name your terms
I think that there are much greater opportunities these days for younger employees, and that it is the "boomers" who have to work harder to get ahead. I have seen many occurrences in recent years where a promotion is given to the younger employees - all other things being equivalent (experience, skills, education), the job will go to the younger employee, as they are often considered to have more potential (presumably because they have more work years ahead to advance). A lot of companies too seem to prefer a younger workforce, for example, tech companies, and financial institutions. So, maybe the gen x'ers have to look out for the y'ers, but I don't think they have to worry too much about the boomers!
I've never had a problem with the "gray ceiling" - in fact, it wasn't until I got into government contracting that I had a single person below VP-level in my management chain over 35 (I turn 30 in January). If you go to massive, old, hierarchial organizations, of course your movement is going to be slow/non-existent. If you want to move up, you need to be in a smaller, more nimble/growing corporation that's constantly adding opportunities and populated by non-boomers/younger people. I'm the equivalent of a manager+project manager in most companies. I've got 2 BS (Comp Sci and Info Sys Mgmt), I'm finishing my PMP in the next month, and I'm working on a dual-masters including my MBA. The only way you hit the "gray ceiling" is if you walk into a room where there is one. The smaller/younger the company, the more opportunity there is for growth, especially if you're assertive, ambitious, and well qualified (charisma is a huge bonus/help).
Granted I'm at the low end of Gen-X (turning 31 this year) so maybe this doesn't totaly apply to me, but I'd have to disagree that the gen-Yers are more tech savy, hyper-energy, etc. than myself and thus I'm getting sqeezed on both ends. I think that the prevelance of computers in everyday life has given the appearance of techno savy to gen-Y in the eyes of those who once (and some still do) believe that being able to surf the net and check your own email makes you "computer savy".
Baby boomers on the other hand are a genuine pain with the biggest problem being a king size sense of self-entitlement. Unfortunately, they've had 30 or 40 years to tilt the tables in their favor while I was still the proverbal sparkle in my mother's eye so I suppose I'll just have to wait them out.
My advice to the boomers: what goes around comes around.
I'm a "boomer" ('61) whose been laid off 3 times in 12+ years in high tech. Retire? That is a joke at this point and I'm looking at middle manager jobs that all the Gen-Xers and outsourcing pass me by at a lower salary. At this rate I'll be working until I'm 80. Sorry to burst your bubble of what Boomer means...but I'm sure their are many in my shoes who are still tring to get ahead.
I'm 26 and all I see is boomers clogging up the promotion path. First thing that should be done is mandatory retirement at age 55. That goes for everyone, public and private sector. Then not only will all this public greed that has caused several US companies to go bankrupt, but it will also clean up the political corruption.
I'm sick and tired of reading and hearing about "baby boomers". Move on, get out of the headlines and let the rest of the working class have a shot at the limelight.
My only problem with Boomers is as they have become entrenched in management, they are very reluctant to change the status quo and adapt to current times, they still use management techniques taught decades ago and then wonder why they can't get people to do what they want. In essence, if most of them were actually good managers, they would see that their job is unnecessary and fire themselves. But since that won't happen, we will have lingering issues of poor efficiency, high turnover, and productivity that's never quite what it should be. I find they are very good at being cheerleaders or touting the company slogan, but very unwilling to accept or effect change. And they look poorly on anyone who tries to do so. Our biggest economic threat going forward, besides geopolitical issues, is going to be the inability of corporate america to adapt to the working styles of gen X and gen Y and the lack of productivity that comes as a result.
I think it's a given that boomers are blocking the path for Xers - not out of greed, but what do you expect a 45-year old Mom or Dad to do, quit? That being said, large corporations have generally become hideous places to work regardless of your age - there's very little advancement and a rating system that consistently rewards the golfers over the bowlers.
I'm 50 and in the best shape of my life, both mentally and physically. I'm not concerned at all about Gen X, Y, or Z. I want to work and make a living and I'll compete with anybody to do it. I'll go back to school, change careers or whatever, and if that means going toe to toe with a youngster, so be it.
I am 40 and need constant challenge so I have a tendency to work 3-4 years per place. I would stay longer if I could continue to move up in responsibility but the next level up have been there for 20 years they aren't planning on leaving. I don't swim-in-place well and that seems to be the boomer-mentality. I watched my father work for 20 years for a company, survive three mergers, and get ousted on the fourth. No thank you. Loyalty is a two-way street.
I am a 60 year "OLD BOOMER" who has been in management since 1976. I have a reputation of getting the job done in an efficient and profitable manner, plus developing those that work with me so they may succeed. I am not an old school manager and will assist those who wish to succeed, and pass on those that do not. If a team member of mine wishes to complain and make excuses for their lack of agressiveness to do their job, or failure to take the actions and risks necessary to move up, they just need to go somewhere else with the rest of the whiners. Makes no difference what their age or social status. Unfortunately, I see this attitude very often. The world owes you nothing. You have to earn it just like I have. I have been acquired and rif'd like many boomers, but I bounced back.
Oh, by the way, I have self funded my retirement plan, and look forward to spending younger generation money from Social Security. Appreciate it!
Ahhhh � the naivet� of youth! �Boomers clogging the promo path, Boomers are about greed and divorce, Boomers cause corporate failures through greed, Getting boomers out will change the political landscape, etc.,.� . If only the young paid attention to there history lessons during their �formative� years.
As a young �up and comer�, you may be one of the best and the brightest � as a matter of fact, you may be one in a thousand � in today�s developing economy, that translates into 2.5 million �one in a thousand� people just like you in the new global economy� The fact of the matter is, if you want to be top dog, the honcho, the man, the CEO, and then start your own company. Go learn Chinese and Hindi, and get out there and rock and roll� Remember, every �boomer� was in your shoes 20-30 years ago. And be careful what you wish for � if you want mandatory retirement at 55, you�ll end up bearing the burden of the taxes required to support the �early out� program. Now get out there and change the world (P.S. � that also means you also have to vote in all the elections).
Boomers have not followed traditional patterns for just about every part of their lives. So retirement should be no different. Boomers will likely stay at their jobs longer or stay on as consultants. Thus a mass exodus of boomers from the workforce will not happen until their kids (the millenials) have enough experience to take the vacated jobs. Again us X'rs will be left without a chair when the music stops. I have always felt we are competing with a whole generation that got a head start before we even got to the starting line.
I really don't consider those around the early 40s to be boomers. It's the 50+ crowd that really defines that generation and in general, they are a vain, narcissitic and insecure lot. Uncooperative, unrealistic expectations and a general cluelessness to the new world. Of course that is not all of them. Later boomers are closer to Xers.
I'm 25 and all I see is baby boomers not wanting to let go of their current position and are preventing me from climbing up the promotion ladder.
Many of their ideas are great but some tend to be outdated. There should be mandatory retirement so that people from my generation can have a chance of impacting the world.
I think I'm part of generation Y and I feel that my potential is being boxed in by baby boomers genertation. "Move on, and let me show you what I have to offer".
As a generation X'er, age 31. I have seen both angles for the clogging of the system. X'ers keep the boomers from re-entry and Boomers keep the X'ers from moving up. The solution is to be mobile.
If you want a promotion and the only chance of getting it is to wait for your boss�s last breath, vote with your feet, work somewhere that has a need for someone with your talents.
Many times, planting roots somewhere will hinder your career advancement, or if you are a boomer, it could be the difference between living on Social Security and a livable income.
Good luck to both!
From what I see, most Gen Xers move around from job to job, and most Boomers, like myself, stay in one job for their career. So, using this equation, Boomers are more likely to make it to the top in a company because of their seniority. Gen Xers spend a lot of time and lose a lot of ground, retarting their careers every couple of years. When I hire people, I look for stability first, and what I see on Gen X resumes is job hopping. I don't have time or funds to train new people all the time, so I hire people that look like they'll stick around.
As a Gen X, in the middle of a generation that sees 60 as the new 40 and a generation of up and comers that seems to demand more then its share of attention, we are not in the best situation. Corporations are doing everything they can to maintain the baby boomers, i.e. flex schedules and new ways to attract Gen Y, it seems that the smaller block of Gen X is being left behind.
As with most things, generalizations are not really useful. Mediocre managers of any age will do their best to prevent others from outshining them. Some even hire for mediocrity, which has the dual self-preservation effect of ensuring there are no stars to shine and that there is cannon fodder when accountability time rolls around.
The problem is not all boomers. Good managers know a rising tide carries all boats and do what they can to engage, advance and reward their workers. At the same time, there is a reason the Peter Principle emerged in this generation.
The worst of the boomer managers are actively engaged in preserving the status quo until they reach retirement. That means manufacturing-era management style in a digital age. They carry blackberries to look like they understand technology. These far outnumber the good managers.
As management guru Rob Enderle points out, �CEOs are often lied to by the most expert liars in their company.� They never deign to talk to frontline employees, relying instead on reports from the very managers who find change threatening and are taking credit ideas from their younger counterparts. These managers are gatekeepers, nothing more.
As for the overall effect? About two weeks ago it was reported that salaries for college-educated workers are falling for the first time since the 1970s. That pretty much tells the story. If Boomers were not logjamming their younger (even younger Boomer) workers, they would have more opportunities to move up the responsibility and income chains.
Also Boomers tend to be very out of touch with what drives their younger colleagues. They think there is no difference in issues like health care, housing, saving and other basics today from what they faced at the same age. Steve Moyles� post is a great example. He cites �job-hopping� as a cause, not an effect, of Gen X consternation. And he may well be one of the managers who hires for mediocrity, because his stated priority is �stability� -- not intelligence, creativity or innovation.
Thanks for touching on this topic. Issues X'ers face are largely ignored in media.
The few X'ers are becoming ever more rare in the corporate ranks. The older X'tweeners, like 39, basically became boomers. They coped by fitting into the boomer mold. From what I've seen, it's a career strategy that works if an X'er can stomach it. The younger X'tweeners, like 29, have become Y'ers. Then there's a group in the middle that will forever clash with Boomers, but want to get beyond the youth of the Y'ers. X'ers live with the same disconnect in the workplace that they've always dealt with, unless able to bail out be an entrepreneur. Many with financial responsibilities, like kids, are never able to make that leap.
I've worked 14 years since college in an industry whose employment was fully populated in the 80s. Many of those boomers were in management by age 30. Now they act like somebody needs to be a god before being qualified to be in management. I'd respect them more if they just came out and said "Look, we're all here...And until we're gone, you're not going anywhere. So we'll leave you alone." But instead they'll send you off for training, as if skills are what made them management. And they'll think you should care, even when you see 10 more boomers ahead in line before you.
My age group is non-existent at my company. Hundreds of Boomers, averaging mid-40s now, and a good number of Y'ers. The Boomers tend to lump me in with the Y'ers. I had one boomer manager who frequently called me by his son's name even though his son was a teenager.
I live in a suburb neighborhood of custom homes full of those younger 40s boomers. Where is my age group? Are no X'ers able to afford this? Or did they choose not to live around here? I don't know. All I know is that I go to work and it's boomers. I go its home and more boomers. I go to the clubs, its Y'ers. I have to get on the phone and call old friends.
X'ers and Y'ers do like each other. We share culture more, such as common music tastes. But its a strange juxtaposition. In any case, the imprint by X'ers in the corporate world is small, so there's not going to be tension between those generations as there is with the boomers. In the business world, the X'er imprint is entrepreneurial, not corporate. Its only a matter of time until the remaining corporate X'ers like myself follow our friends and go that way too.
I wish you Generation Xers were around 30 years ago when I graduated from college. There were 70+ of us to one piddly little ol job out there. In the 30 years that I've been working, it has been dog eat dog, and it doesn't matter what age you are. When I started my career 30 years ago, in those days a woman followed her husband's career. My "reward" was working and moving around every 2 years due to husband's career. Along comes divorce which wipes everything out, add that to not being vested, hence my "retirement egg" sucks. Sure, I'd love to retire at 55 but that is not financially feasible for me. Like it or not, I will probably have to work until I'm 65 or 70.
My suggestion to those who are tired of the corporate "ladder" - get out. Our small company rolled up with others in mid 90's and went public. I moved up fast but could not run the company as we had before (very profitably I might add). Got tired of conference calls and being only as good as my last quarter. Quit on a conference call one day with no plan but to promise that I would never be in that world again. Bought small, existing company in construction industry and killing it. Grab your cahoonas and get out and make some really money and make a difference in some employees' lives.
A Baby-Boomer was a child born to a Second World War veteran in the 10 years following the end of that war. Basically the rule is now, a Boomer is anyone older than you who has a job you want and are not yet experienced enough for!
As a 32 year old professional I spend a little time now and then paying attention to the shifts in the marketplace. �Boomers and Gen X�ers� are just one of those shifts. I agree with other comments that have been made recommending that you stay mobile and awake (no mattter your age). I love working with smart agile boomers, they help me avoid mistakes. I agree that Boomers are to blame for some of the failures in our modern economy; however, they are also responsible for our countries overwhelming growth and success over the last several decades (even if they had nothing to do with it) � so we need to cut those generations some slack. The beauty of capitalism is it rewards the innovative and punishes the lazy.
I don�t look at the Boomer / Gen X thing as a competition, I look at it with more nervous eyes � i.e. what happens when this generation gets 20 years older, is not working as much (or at all), is still out there driving, and emptying social security and retirement accounts? Have you been to Northern California lately? Visit � you will see this all around you.
Someone will need to be working (i.e. us and our kids) � and I suppose that�s the message to my generation. Get familiar with your new customer (Boomers) � they will consume your services faster than you can spend their retirement funds.
Wow, I hadn't realized there was such a struggle between the boomers and xers. As a GenY member (27 years old), I've learned a lot from my "job-hopping X bosses" (Keep updated on your skills, search out new opportunities, take risks and stayeducated as best you can), and a lot from my boomer mentors (Work hard, don't sweat the small stuff and appreciate what you have). I may be relatively new at this corporate thing, but I don't believe there is a gray ceiling, and people that blame abother generation for their own setbacks are just setting themselves up for failure.
Instead of worrying about promotions and titles, why not use you current job only as a means to learn the skills to start your own company. I've never understood why in America, so many people are willing to work so hard for someone else for so little. The ability to create wealth and shelter it from the IRS is not available to an employee. The mistake most people make in thinking about self-employment is they never realize that it's the only way to capture what I call "bumps." Those rare deals where you can make millions of dollars in the course of your normal business. In my business, real estate speculation, these "bumps" have made me a multi-millionaire by 35.
It shouldn't be an us vs. them situation. If each generation would simply recognize the talents, abilities, and available energy available from each group and leverage that, things would work better. Look at GM and Ford, they failed because they failed to tap into new talent pools to innovate and instead fattened up their middle managers, afraid to make risky moves. Meanwhile Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, and even Chrysler took design and engineering risks (most of which came from teamwork � old and new)
I thought this article on CNN was a good example of Boomers and Gen X'ers working together:
It shows that the young'ins like me (Im 30) and the more established crowd, shall we say, can work together to achieve excellence, but only if they admit they need each other and actually try to help each other.
I'm a 36 yr old male who has a few scars from bumping up against the gray ceiling. One thing I find disappointing is that the boomer generation of mentors takes it personally when you finally get fed up with the corporate infrastructure, find something better for yourself and leave. They act as though you have betrayed them personally, when you are just trying to find something better for yourself and family.
Another aspect of the gray ceiling that I have observed regards my female co-workers. Men over 50 do not respect female workers. They may placate them, they may "allow" them to participate but they do not take them seriously. This is strange since most of them are sending their college age daughters to fancy colleges to get degrees I guess they think much of. As frustrated as I have been by the situation at times, I am very glad not to have had some of the humiliating experiences of my female colleagues.
I am a gen X college professor and talk about a Gray Ceiling! These boomers are NEVER going to give up their tenured positions with the high salaries and cushy benefits. Unlike many sectors we are pretty lay-off proof so people just stick around far longer than they should. I�m just biding my time, keeping up with my work and climbing the ladder as much as I want to, albeit slowly. Let�s face it Xers, IF we want to follow in our parents footsteps and measure our success or happiness by our job title or the square footage of our house then we bring this fate on ourselves. I do want mention that I work with Gen Y college students everyday and while they may know how to set up blogs and myspace sites they really have no understanding of the code or programming behind all that. So in that respect they are just as techno savvy as any other generation. We really need to keep teaching programming or at least explain to them that software does not just write itself.
I am a 37-year-old Gen-X'r and have worked for four senior-level, Boomer managers in the last 15 years. Not only have Boomers held me back and hindered me from advancing in my career, two managers actively tried to sabotage my career. Both times, they brought me into their inner circles, relied on my expertise for company-wide strategic planning, subsequently became threatened by my expertise, and then tried to force me out and replace me with a tenured Boomer associate to take on the projects, use the knowledge I gave them, and take the credit.
In my experience, Boomer managers are cut-throat, underhanded, selfish, nepotistic, downright mean (and yes, they do take things personally � you're "either with me or against me"), and completely resistant to innovation. They don't want to give up their command, and all of the talented Gen-X'rs who are rotting away in dead-end positions thinking that they will finally be promoted should embrace the flexibility, creativity, and idealism of our generation to take a stance and carve a path to their own futures through small businesses, cooperative groups, nonprofits, and create new business models that embrace our own vision.
A lot of "experts" seem to be treating the generation differences as something new. The Boomers wanted to push ahead and take charge in the 70's. Doesn't anybody remember "the establishment"? This is an old theme that will return again in 20 years when Gen-X children enter the workforce.
I don't think that it's only a selfish pursuit of promotion and money that keep Xers moving form one company to another. While that might be a factor, I believe that the lack of loyalty to the Xer as an employee from the Boomer-run corporations is a big issue. Why should I be loyal to a corporation, invest my time and effort, when all that I am to the corporation is a burden to the payroll; a burden that can be relieved significantly by hiring someone on the Indian subcontinent?
While my intellectual capital and intimate knowledge of my industry might be of significant value to my direct manager or that person's boss, it is nothing to the C-level executives. I am just an expense that needs to be eliminated.
C-level executives say "We need to 'Knowledge Transfer' all that you know to Accenture so that they can do what you, but do it from India for 1/5 the cost. You have two weeks to do this. If you don't perform as expected or have a bad attitude, then you don't get your severance package." With that sort of "Boomer" mentality going around, I see no reason to be loyal to anyone but myself, much less a corporation. Since the US corporations are going to be outsourcing my positions every year or two, why should I sit around and wait for it to happen?
I think Boomers are missing a large factor in this issue. I'm not saying that out-sourcing is bad, do what is best for business. However, I don't want to hear any whining from management or the executives that they can't count on Xers and those who are even younger. They architected this business environment! When you sow the wind, you reap the storm. Get used to it. We're not spoiled, we're simply surviving in the business world that the Boomers built.
As a Generation X'er working at a large corporation full of Baby Boomers, I find that the Generation X employees complain just as much as the Baby Boomers do. And both sides of the gap expect things to be handed to them because they "deserve" it. I will agree that all of the senior position are filled with the Baby Boomers and the only path for the Generation X'rs is into management positions or newly created project management positions, which are a complete joke. The main problem I see is that the Baby Boom generation was too financial frivolous most of their lives and are now paying for it by working past their retirement ages. This, in turn, applies the brakes on the Generation X'rs who already have to play catch-up with their retirement because of the lack of structure in social security and non-existent pensions. Generation X'rs need to learn from the Baby Boomers and learn how to side step past them in their careers. Businesses are changing at a lightning fast pace and most people are too lazy to keep up. My only hope is that in another decade or so when the Baby Boomers finally start exiting the workplace, there will be a high demand for the lost experience, experience that most Generaion X'rs aren't willing to learn.
As a Gen X-er, boomers in the workplace are a decidedly mixed blessing. They have an enormous sense of entitlement, which is terrifying when you look at the looming Medicare and Social Security funding requirements that Gen X and Y will have to shoulder. As long as they are still in the workplace at least they are not a burden to society. I am frantically looking for tax-advantaged investments to weather the boomer-induced tax tsunami that is heading our way.
How do some of you boomers remember competing with your parents' generation? IMO, you had less in common with them then you do with us...
The grey ceiling is a problem facing workers who are in the thirties. The difference comes down on how we view corporations and our lives. My parents are boomer who gave 100% loyalty to the companies that employed them only to watch them be laid off or their division closed. When this happen their job experiences meant very little to the outside world and they never attained the level of job they had before. The lesson I learned is not to put all of your trust in a company and learn as much as you can to keep your skills up to date. Sitting & waiting for the person in front of you to retire in order to advance and walk the corporate straight line is a Boomer philosophy that X-ers do not except. As an X-ers I reject his philosophy because corporations are not set up to reward its employees as they once did. The word �shareholder� has replaced �employee� in most companies� outlook. Most of the shareholders are boomers with large retirement accounts. The shareholder mentality that Boomers have is one that is not aggressive and shows very little creativity. As an X-er, I accept the fact that Social Security is going to sucked dry by the Boomer generation, taxes will be significantly higher due to large deficit spending by the Boomer generation. For Boomers to call X-ers spoiled is a crime. The Boomers are a generation who were raised and given the keys to world�s greatest economy by the Generation that fought WWII only to overspend and pass the buck to future generations. X-ers have a totally different view of the economy than Boomers and that�s why we clash and change jobs when we run into the Grey ceiling. X-ers are not cattle waiting for the slaughter.
Yes there is a difference between X and Boomers. I'm at the older end of the X'ers and I've had many Boomer bosses who are very, very self-centered and greedy. They also have their pensions from the company or one vested from other companies and when it comes to employee benefits, most of them have the attitude of "I've got mine already, why should I worry about helping others". They are very inept in championing the HR departments in demanding better benefit packages and 401k programs, matches and vesting. It is unfortunate, but it is consistent in many companies. Keep in mind that many X'ers have been involved in corporate downsizing /layoffs and also periods of high unemployment rates.
The Boomers are a pain in the back side. No other genration before or since has had the opportunities or advantages they have had. This is the group that gave us the quickie divorce, and the ME generation. It is the Boomers that brought the level of keep up with the Jones's to a whole new level, learned to exploit every flat surface and public structure for advertising. It is'nt the GenXers that are building all the McMansions or buying the 7 Series BMW's its the Boomers. It's not enought that they have allowed public education to collaps, college costs spiral out of sight, housing costs spiral out of site, devloped the offshoring business model, made lay offs a competition between executives, destroyed the pension system and made healthcare an option you have to consider not taking in your benefits in order to afford your rent. They have run up a national debt that if we Xers do not address we will have to watch be passed onto our children. Now we and our children have to support them with medicare drug benefits, social security that they raided to avoid higher taxes or tough choices. WE have almost no choice about the 2 income family and yet the Boomer managers love to gripe when a Dad has to take time off to take the kids to work or leave early to watch them after school. The greatest generation was followed by the most selfish and self absorbed generation.
I'm 27 and am working at my fourth company since I graduated college. Everytime I switch jobs I get a tremendous salary increase and now make triple what I made 5 years ago when I first started. I think Boomers need to realize that Gen-x's switch jobs so often because its financially beneficial.
In terms of the gap I think Boomers are way out of their league and from my experince don't know how to manage at all and are control freaks. They need to realize that Gen-x's know more about technology and new methods and can probably do things more efficiently then they can.
I am 27, and have found myself on the border between Generation X and Y. Having read the previous blogs I have to say... X'rs... wow... lots of anger. I feel this is all created by our basic need to survive. Boomers now find themselves retiering without pensions or savings plans, and thus the need to continue working. X'rs also feel the need to survive. In todays age it takes both parents working to put food on the table. With inflation on the rise and employers unwilling to increase salaries, who could blame the X'rs for jumping ship if it means a better standard of living? As an XYer I find myself bored with work easily. Not that I don't enjoy my job, but if I don't have a project right now... let me go home. I don't want to spend my life staring at a computer screen. So Boomers, either keep me gainfully employed with a salary to match my hard work, or give me your job, and I'll keep you gainfully employed.
Ok, Other X'ers - who else has this experience?
You walk into a meeting, your boss (often older) sits you down and says, "you're doing a great job (or something they've read in diversity training) blah blah.
They look at you and say, "I need you to tell me what's next. I need a creative solution from you that will exemplify your skills in this company."
So you go and work the project and complete it. And soon you realize, "Wait, why am I doing my bosses job?" "Isn't what I'm doing, formulating the idea and crunching the numbers and executing overseeing project management what he is getting paid to do?"
Next thing you know, there's been a meeting scheduled about the project and you're not invited. Your boss comes out of the meeting and pats you on the back and says, "Great job." Which incidentially means, "Great job for making me look good and people in the company thinks I did all this."
Yet, if you don't do it because it's not in your job description nor do you get compensated for that level, your evaluation says you're not a team player.
I'm a GenXer... In today's work world of "bottom line focus" and "downsizing", Companies don't care about people anymore.. Boomers can have the top job...give me flextime and work/family anytime..after all.. you live once..my memories will be of family and fun, not work....
Lately, I've met an increasing number of greying Baby Boomers who have started to advise the younger generation to not focused on the accumulation of material wealth. I find this to be extremely ironic given that these same greying Baby Boomers are responsible for the "Greed years" of the 1980's and debacles such as the S&L scandal. Furthermore, numerous Baby Boomers attempt to teach the younger generation about buisness but with the creation of computers and other advance technologies, the younger generation tend to make more astute decisions due to improved due diligence. (Not to mention, our productivity is far more higher. Remember...computers did not even exist in their time.) Ultimately, I believe the best job should be given to those with the best abilities and qualities. If this means a younger person is better qualifed...so be it.
I'm a pretty nice guy who wouldn't normally care to much about generational gaps but this article came along on the wrong day. I'm a mid-level Xer and I am sick and tired of dealing with senior management Boomers who A) sit around in their jobs thinking that because they have done it for the last 10 years that that's the way it should be for the next 10, B) need a personal assistant to create the simplest of spreadsheets and manage their calendar, and C) think that because they had to work so hard to get where they are that everyone else should work that hard too plus put up with their BS. I didn't just work hard to get where I am, I worked smart. I'm sorry that they didn't have the same knowledge and technical advantages that I did. (I had to walk through a metal detector in high school, so yo me it all balances out.) As long as Boomers put effort into education and flexibility, I don't care how old they are. However, age does not equal effectiveness and ineffective people better get out of the way because I have no problem going overor through them.
It not like we don't want to work but most Baby Boomers work work work like sweat shop employees and GENX want the ability to spilt work and home life. Live a little not just work work.
Baby Boomers certainly are blocking the path for us Gen Xer's. However, to keep us working for them salaries and bunuses for talented Sr. Analysts are well into the management pay range. Hmmm, I earn almost as much as my Boomer boss earns with less stress.
I think the attitude of younger workers, such as myself, is a reflection of the changes in corporate culture. As large companies have flattened management, as a result of 80�s restructuring, there are fewer places for individuals to fit. Less people are doing more work and often the only way for openings to occur is due to attrition.
Company loyalty will provide you little or no benefit now. I see that with my parents and friends who have been fired (laid off, downsized, etc...) at the whiff of a slowdown. Long-term benefits are eroding and often lifers suffer from salary compression, which I�ve seen at many companies.
Selling your skills to the highest bidder is more appropriate in today�s economy. It�s helped me increase by income by many multiples since I�ve graduated. With exposure to a group of quality companies I�ve also gained immense knowledge in my field.
A trend that I�ve seen to stop the exodus has been to grease the wheels of internal transfer. The larger companies I have worked for encourage people to move around, which makes my peers feel like they are moving to a new job. As long as the salary keeps moving up, it may work.
This article takes the legitmate issues of boomers trying to keep jobs they've worked for and X'ers trying to honestly succeed, and turns it into a battle between generations that doesn't solve anything. First off, not every boomer has a lock on a great position for life. I'm 48 and I'm heading back to school for a third time, an MBA in this instance, so I can keep up with the rapid changes of business in general and my industry in particular. I share office space with our local MIS Director, who is 32, and new from about age 10, that he was good with computers and technology. Our working relationship consists of mutual respect, an open exchange of ideas and helping each other through difficult problems as a TEAM. To both boomers and X'ers: Knock it off with the age warfare. You need our experience and time in the trenches. We need your energy and enthusiasm. If we don't work together, the company will have no trouble sending our work to Mexico or India.
I am a Gen Xer and proud of it! I believe I have learned valuable lessons from the generations in front of me; such as, my education is important and that hard work pays off. However, I have also learned that sticking with one company for an extended period of time, while passing by outside opportunities, may very well lead to me getting the ax just before I am ready to retire. This is not unique; it happens all the time. Corporate America is full of Baby Boomer bosses making the decision to flatten management so that they can buy a bigger condo and enjoy a better bottom line. So, before the Baby Boomer generation gets too excited about Generation X regularly "job-hopping" for personal gain, perhaps they should be mindful of the fact that it was their actions that created this mentality.
The Boomers are not the big problem. Gen-Xers in positions of responsibility are more of a headache. They do not remember (or never knew) when higher standards of work behavior and performance were demanded. Many of the X-ers I work with would be UNEMPLOYABLE by past standards.
I just wish the work world was more like sports: try-outs every training camp. Hey, if you can do the job best, good for you. Many Boomers are living in 'working-retirement' where they have experience, can do their job well, but quit being creative and innovative years ago. Long breaks, minimal work, and no one to call them on it. It's worse in a union, then there is no merit at all.
I am a baby boomer with a four year degree, three technical certifications with eleven plus years with my company.
My head hurts from the Grey Ceiling crashing down on me. My company feels the X and Y's that I 've trained have more experience for a position than the baby boomer I am.
I am watching a recent college graduate with 9 months experience with the company and half my age get promoted.
This baby boomer has heard better excuses from women he tried to date in high school.
I don't see what's bad about switching jobs. When has a company ever been loyal to any workers? I may be too young for generation X, but I have switched jobs every two or three years since I started working. I've never had a retirement plan I had any hope of actually seeing a check from, job security, or health insurance. I don't think anything bad about older people, but we're all just trying to get by.
When your employer won't look out for you, then moving around and looking out for yourself is the next best thing. This is the global economy. If you really think that your employer cares about you and will be there when you get sick or retire, then keep waiting for that pension and social security check. I don't think they're coming
Yah, they gotta wait. We boomers had to wait for the WWII generation to give it up and retire. Look at the presidents, only two boomers.
This whole concept is complete nonsense that does nothing more than encourage the kind of Jerry Springeresque whining that the media so treasures--magazine not selling so well?
There's no ceiling until all boomers are age 65 (or is it 67, or is it 70??) or older and are still working and not trying follow societal conventions to retire. (By the way, what are those conventions? I just read an article about keeping a job past age 65 to fund one's retirement!) Take away all the boomers and what's left of the gutted corporations for Xers to work for? Who will buy corporate America's overhyped goods and services? Take away the younger generations and where is the future for the truly elderly and for our children?
We need less of this divisive and ill-conceived hyperbole in this society. Talk about the lack of good jobs for people of all stripes. Talk about greedy CEOs who are shamefully draining precious financial resources. Talk about how our society provides little security for anyone's future. There are plenty of serious issues to talk about. Too bad our "star" journalists are so unable to do so in an engaging and effective fashion... Too bad we are stuck with such utter silliness...
The problem is not one of getting along. I think everyone will get along fine as long as there are sufficient resources - manpower resources. With the tremendous increase in technology usage within all American corporations the burden is on the quintessential baby boomer manger to keep up with technology and learn to manage. I'm 34, tech savvy. I work hard and I am really good at what I do. People recognize your worth if you are good no matter what. Efficiency and productivity at the work place, especially since one has to do many things and be versatile to manage different projects at the same time, is really the key here since that is what contributes to the well being of the company and the profits. The problem I face at work is not one of adequate resources (although I'd welcome that) but senior management�s indecision and failure to recognize potential problems. My experience is that senior managers, and I mean general managers/ VPs and above, don't react as quickly as a genX manager does. I've seen my bosses struggle to take decisions and have to work 10 to 12 hours a day, because of their inefficiency! They also lack insight for fixing problems long term. Ultimately, companies that are not improving their bottom-line will eventually weed out the non performing personnel, be it baby boomers, genX or the genZ. The ones that are making money or do not have competition can take the �baggage� and not worry about anything. That�s where we see incompetent managers holding sway. Having said that about boomers, I should add that I've known many new engineers (BS) that basically do not have the fundamentals clear. These are the people that would one day lead key departments. I shudder to think what would come out it. The other sad thing is that certain baby boomers with technical knowledge such as engineering etc and are good are already in demanding positions that they don�t have time to mentor capable genX. The resulting gap in technical expertise has resulted in two things: 1) mediocre baby boomers who are middle level managers promoted to the position by virtue of their service or lack of competition. (2) Company struggling to solve problems and thus genX having to reinvent the wheel since the mediocre managers have not documented things properly or were just plain negligent and/or incompetent. The bottom line for these corporations is that R&D suffers and costs of doing business go up. That leads to certain baby boomer pundits shouting the outsourcing mantra (because everyone does it) without proper long-term thought.
So what does this mean for baby boomers or genX? My opinion is that if you are good regardless of your generation or age, there will always be good / smart people that are willing to hire to you and value your work no matter what.
Have we considered that Xers are well equipped and a "better value"? At 51, I'm really young and immature and no where near ready to hang it up. I'm in my prime but getting pushed by those 20 years younger -- not because of skill set, but because of "value" considerations - lower salaries, less expensive insurance, fewer days off, less responsibility on their part. Don't get me wrong... I love my Xer cohorts... it's management's view that can skew the relationship. Culture still trickles down.
I got my MBA with 70 something other highly motivated Gen-x's. After 5 years of talking with them all out in the working world, I have reached the conclusion that the Gray Ceiling is a huge career problem for most. I personally left two good paying good title jobs to run my own business for exactly this reason, because no matter how bad the boomers want to hold my head under water I will keep fighting for my freedom. Great article, I wish there was more visability to this problem........but corporate America will pay the price someday as small business take the reins. If you are a controlling boomer, good luck keeping your top talent!
From what I see the Baby Boomers who are almost 60 are a greedy bunch of know-nothings. They want to sit back and enjoy entertainment and that pension they have earned without fear or worry of what tomorrow may bring. It would be nice if they could do that but unfortunately they didn't do their part to see to it that was possible. The current economic collapse we are about to face is largely due to the fact that not enough boomers banded together to oust the fascist Bush regime. You get what you deserve so to all you worthless uninformed-by-choice boomers out there have fun working until you die, you brought it on yourselves.
It is best for both generations to avoid prejudices and captious, fault-finding temperaments, but rather learn from eachother's strengths and weaknesses. I'm on the cuspe, or fulcrum, born 1963; therefore, I share some of the attributes and values of both groups. Overall, "Generation X" has excellent technolgy skills, vitality; while, "Boomers" often excel well in business relations, communication skills, and in-depth industry knowledge. Many "Boomers" also come to the table with virtues of wisdom and patience. We really need them today, in addition, to reinstill traditional business-relations built on etiquette, decorum and respect.
As 45 year boomer manager, I ask my Gen X staff what are there short term and long term goals. Understanding what they want from work and life helps me be a better mentor for them. In this way I help them attain what they seek. Give the Xer's space to do there job. If you are a micro manager you will need to change or they will quit. Also Praise and recogination will work for any generation employee.
I am a Gen-Y �er and certainly feel the ceiling placed by the boomers, however the venom of the comments concerns me. Come on these boomers are our parents too. Clearly there is a lack of communication.
Unfortunately due to the size of the boomer population they have shifted culture and organizations to their way throughout their lives. However, we have done so to, like casual dress codes, flexible working hours, etc.
From the younger generation, I am frustrated with the lack of opportunity and paths in corporate environments. My parents and grandparents had management trainee programs and co-ops early in their careers. They also had mentors that helped mold their careers and develop them. Where are programs like that now?
My concern is that the boomers, who are running the show (not all boomers), remember how they used their training and aggressively pushed out the generation before them. Now they are afraid of the same happening to them so they block the older means to career promotion. However, with more active development of the next generation we would close the gap on the understanding disconnect between the generations and hopefully have well trained people to take over. The game isn�t about divvying up the pie; its about growing the pie � and there�s not enough of that!!!
All those little X-er's whining about the "grey ceiling ... I'd like to ask them a question. You're going to be 50 one day too, so ... here's the question: After YOU'VE put in 25 years or so rising to YOUR position, do you then want someone telling YOU that YOU have to 'step aside' so the 30-year-olds can 'get ahead'? Answer honestly. Well, actually no answer is required. I already know what that answer is.
I find it difficult to understand most of these comments. I am a 55 year old woman without a degree. I have worked very hard over the last 30 years and have been very successful in upper level management of financial institutions, earning well beyond the average salary and reaching 6 figures while that still meant something. I did it through hard work and more hard work and going the extra mile and strategizing my job and going the extra mile and never, never, expecting something for nothing. The term boomers or gen xers means nothing to my personal experience which has been that you get ahead and you get the jobs if you work and work and work. Good grief, , , , all this talk is nonsense. Just do your job, stop thinking of yourself and you'll get ahead.
In reading over some of the responses I found it interesting (and a bit amusing) that a number of Gen-X'ers referred to boomers as greedy (the implication being that they are not).
Ironically, many of the boomers were probably flower children as young adults or just scrapping by. It was the boomer generation that sang the mantra, "trust no one over 30," and now here we are faced with another generation not trusting anyone over thirty. Irony sometimes tastes bitter.
But the other irony is that the Gen X-ers I worked with in California during the height of the dot-com gold rush were far more spoiled than the few boomers working for those same companies. These kids grew up taking limos to their proms and enjoying hugely overpaying jobs early in their careers. I knew more dot-comers who were Gen-X that were driving around in expensive sports cars and spending their work day jabbering on the phone about their stock options than the boomers. In fact, the Gen X'ers I saw on the work force were lazy and complained when work actually interfered with their ping-pong games.
But these are vast generalizations about both generations and we know that there are good, hardworking people young and old.
If you�re a boomer, keep learning. Go back to school, stay informed about technology, and try to enjoy the new music. If you tune it out, just remember when your own parents complained about the Beatles and all those �long haired hippy freaks�
The job of the young is to challenge the ideals of the old. The job of the old is to just try and keep up : )
I'm a 43 year-old disabled veteran and one of the best at what I do (writing and photojournalism). I am constantly kept from getting jobs held onto tightly by selfish baby boomers -- or they give the job to a 20-something for lower wages. Adding another insult to previous insults, some of these self-absorbed, pontificating wankers insist on treating me like a child. As far as I am concerned, baby boomers are heading for a nasty suprise. They had better not look to me for kindness or compassion as they grow old and frail. Two wrongs may not make a right but that is the way I truly feel (as boomers voraciously use up resources, health care, get us into idiotic wars and generally despoil the planet).
Ah children, consider this. . .many of us Boomers were born in 1946. We will be retiring in about five years. There are 77 million of us (born in the boom years) who went to Woodstock, VietNam, College and graduate school. We married, birthed children sent them to school bought them their first cars, financed their first apartments, and paid for their wedding. We are not stupid, lazy, greedy and divorced (we remarried). We are exhausted! When we go, all of you will have to work very, very hard to fill the 77 million vacancies before they are outsourced to those who can spell and remain calm without taking a toke on a joint during lunch to chill out.
I am 40 years old and a ruthless S.O.B., I have no problem taking someone out above me, below me, or on my same level. This is about survival and nice guys finish last. Basically within each organization, it is a zero sum gain. There are some winners, some losers, and the rest is just talk. I have taken some out. I use anyway I have to. I learned the hard way when I had the same thing happen to me early on in my career, so if that is the way they play, it is war and war is hell. I have taken out Babyboomers and Gen Xers. I have ended careers, marriages and situations. But then again, I do political consulting...LOL
Well, I'm 46, and I've always felt that the "Boomers" ... who came before me, by the way ... can often be a group that is perfectly unaware of anything beyond their own noses. When I graduated from college in 1983, to the worst job market in more than 20 years, it was the men my Dad's age to were willing to interview me. Those who were in their early 30s seemed to have a, "I've got mine ... what else is there?" attitude. They got the jobs AND houses and made things that much more difficult for the rest of us. I can empathize with "Gen X" types because, as a "late-boomer," I've been taking the leavings of the "mainstream" boomers all my adult life. Now that I've said that, I will also say that I just lost a job at a software organization run almost entirely by men in their early 30s (born 1971-74), and I strongly suspect that my age had something to do with it. I always felt like an outcast, and they essentially set me up to fail by overloading me with work (4+ months of 70-80 hour weeks, working evenings and weekends full time without a break). None of them even came close to having that workload. They didn't want to hear why I wasn't making my deadlines because they know everything there is to know! Simply everything. I had nothing to tell them. I see this a lot in current Gen Xers, and trust me: a cold splash of life will hit you around 40, and it'll show you just how much you don't know. Anyway, Gen Xers: you're right. Baby Boomers: you're right. Me: I'm outta work.
Listen, learn..take risks. Seek a "GRAY" mentor.
I feel like boomers resent the ambition and intellegence of their younger counterparts. Often times, my generation are able to work faster and more effectively because we are intimately familiar with the technology that allows us to work faster. And yet, they have no interest in learning how to utilize technology to make everyone more effective.
I am an X-er who teamed with a Baby Boomer in the continuation of her life's work in building her business, as a natural growth of the business I started several years ago. It is an excellent pairing. One thing I learned when working with her, is how much I still had to learn. I think that us 30 somethings think we know more than we do. The Baby Boomers need us around to stay young, and need our insights and ideas. Rather than pit one against the other, pair them off in teams for greater job satisfaction and learning. Make work rewards be resultant on what the team of young-older workers accomplish TOGETHER.
I'm thirty-two and the next-youngest peson in our small office is 58. She believes, "if you want me to retire and get out of your way, support me". I feel for boomers who haven't planned or can't support themselves, but come on. I remind her that she'll be drawing Social Security that we pay into, but will never see when we retire. She' not leaving, and I'm not moving up anytime soon. That's a gray ceiling.
as a 23 year veteran teacher and a late Baby Boomer, I see many X'ers as unwilling to earn their stripes through hard work, too opinionated without the experience to back it up and more like carpetbaggers who only worry about paychecks...if you tell them something they don't like they simply pack their bags and move on sometimes without notice...they don't view their job as a career and I always take offense at that...let them move on I say and we'll hire a person from the business world who has a work ethic and dedication to the job, not just a wallet!
Boy, howdy, what a bunch of cranky people. I'm 49 and saw no one get entry level jobs during the Carter Administration and saw that again in 2000. Things like this happen.
I worked at a raft of companies that did not want to give me pay increases, but gave them to my male compatriots. What did I do? I jumped ship! 10% raises each time I did it. It was the only way I could get a raise or promotion. This went on for years.
Does that make me a Genx-boomer hybrid? Not sure.
When companies treat individuals poorly, they don't enjoy retention. Its as simple as that.
Corporations (and the executives who run them) have no one but themselves to blame for the huge turnover in junior workers. Period. They outsourced the junior workers' jobs and now are accusing the junior workers of being slackers. The Gen X folks are smart to be nimble. I have seen no loyalty on the part of corporations towards their employees since 1990.
Now, the junior workers, like anyone in history under 30 or so, is just full of beans and energy and cannot understand why their energy is not being rewarded immediately.
This is human nature. We're all impatient primates. In the run up to the year 2000, I saw a lot of younger workers rise very rapidly in the ranks with disastrous results. The software that was written could make Don Knuth weep. The books were so cooked, I did not know if I was going into Bobby Flay's or an accounting department. Meetings were not discussions, they were shouting matches. Venture capital got spent on raves, toys (yes, TOYS) in the office, and large posh offices. All this with no money coming in. Honestly, a CEO over 50 would never stand for that.
The younger workers need to understand that it is great to be smart and credentialed, but some experience has to happen over time and it has to get deep into their bones. The older workers need to understand that companies are no longer loyal to their employees and that they should not only expect to see their young colleagues jump ship, but they should keep their skills and resumes toned and honed to perfection.
We all have more in common than we think and this p*ssing match going on in this forum is - I don't know - either embarassing to read or painfully sad to read.
I'm a Gen-Xer who finds corporate America drab, demoralizing, fake and boring. So I can make 70K a year...and for what...to spend the absolute best years of my life in a mouse maze tucked away in a high rise somewhere...hoping that someday I can retire early. We only have today...we don't know about tomorrow. In addtion, making money for corporate baby boomers at the top? I can see work life in two scenarios....have a career where I'm making a gazillion dollars and calling the shots only to retire at 40 or to have a job where I make a fair salary and am cut loose at 5pm to actually enjoy my most vital active years. I think other gen-exers feel this way too.
Your article on "Escaping Middle Management Hell" is disturbing
on many levels for some of us Boomers. The notion that people over 50
should be kicked to the curb because some 32 year-olds are upset over
not making senior vice president yet is irresponsible. Throw
experienced workers out of their jobs prematurely and, one way or the
other, Gen X will pick up the tab, on top of all the debts we have
already dumped on them. We all can't be department store greeters.
As a Gen Xer in a sea of Baby Boomers, I have felt so squeezed and so pessimistic. I feel that I will NEVER get a chance to rise in rank or to be truly promoted, no matter where I work. I also agree that the 40 year old Xers are so similar to the Baby Boomers that they might as well be the same. As a 37 year old Xer, I feel very alienated at work, pushed out, and used for my ideas while the Boomers get all the rewards and credit. I also agree that their management style is so old and antiquated. However, they still have visions and Dynasty and Dallas on the mind that they refuse to believe that their time has come and gone. Step down!!
i have enjoyed reading all the comments and while i am a boomer, i am encouraged by the desires of the x'rs to take over. i work in the employment industry and the word on the street is that our businesses are very concerned when the boomer generation leaves the workplace because there aren't enough qualifed workers to fill in. You x'rs are correct that the traditional business tract methods are inconsiderate about your needs. I have thought for quite some time that more effective mentoring was needed with consideration of your lifestyle desires. i do think that your attention to living a healthier, more centered lifestyle - placing attention to effective parenting and community involvement - is an important piece that us boomers overlooked. the "every" workplace needs to accomodate this desire. I think that flexibility is the answer, and then the problem with the x'r turnover would be diminished. Anyway folks. I personally love the energy these young'uns have. I just hope that there are enough of them to take over for us - because personally - i am tired of taking on more and more additional duties due to downsizing. I (in contrast to the one comment about us boomers being tired/sort of deadwood)am a very hard worker with a penchant to learn all sorts of new things. my biggest problem is in saying "no" . I think that that is a problem with a lot of us. maybe if we did, upper management would then see that we need more personnel - hence hire some young'uns.
Hey, i'm 43 and when I was 22-34, i had a ton of gray haired people in my way of "upward mobility". That's how its . There is always someone who feels that they are "owed" a career. That includes 20-30 something year olds , who may not have the experience it takes to do certain jobs.
The Baby Boomers are not going anywhere soon, they are used to expensive things, and the only way to keep their lifestyle up, is to work.
You will always have a bill to pay, so in the future, retirement is not going to be what a 70-75 year old today does for retirement-which is travel, visit family, garden -etc. The 45 year old boomer is going to work at least another 20 years,because the cost of living will dictate it as a necessity.
I evny the elderly senior citizens in my family-most have not worked since 1970- that's 36 years of leisure time. We will never see that kind of leisure time as the population who makes up the "end of the baby boom generation.
Everyone seems to forget that Boomers were the hero's that built this country. They fought more than their fair share of wars, were/are the nations biggest and most successful innovators, (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Scott McNeally to name a few) One only has to look at the disaster of the late 90's from 23 year old kids who thought they would make a billion by starting a dot com with a dumb idea. It took hard work to build this country, it's scary how lazy this generation is. How old am I ? 31.
How about a little respect and honor toward the people who pioneered the everyday things kids take for granted.
I am a member of the GenX group and I have read all the comments here. I have to admit that the GenX comments come off as whining (I think its a product of misplaced angst). However, the Boomers are really not getting our side (albeit that we are not explaining we're just whining). Here's an example situation that may shed some light.
Boomer John, Boomer Dale and GenXer Steve work at XCo. John is the BMOC. Dale has been with the company for a long time but his star has not shined like John. Steve is clearly recoginized as the star of the future.
One day, John decides to retire. A dialog begins:
XCo: We need to replace John with either Dale or Steve. Let's give it to Dale because he's a nice guy and only has 4 years to retirement. Steve will still get the job when Dale leaves.
Dale: Wow, I've waited so long to get this job, I'm going to stick around a few more years than I planned.
Steve: I'm 37, I've got a mortgage, the kids will be in college in 5 yrs, my parents are living on fixed income. I've got to get my career moving. Maybe I should talk to YCo.
YCo: Steve we have our own cadre of old people to support, but we like your resume. We can't promote you but we can give you a $10k raise and give you Friday afternoons off to go to your daughter's gymnastic events. Besides, we haven't done anything to make you angry like XCo.
Steve: I have such a hard decision to make.
The �Grey Ceiling� definitely exists. I�ve been told outright by my boss that, although I�m very smart, very capable, and doing quality work, there is just no where to go because all of our senior tech positions are � you guessed it � filled by boomers. So, rather than being negative about the situation, I�m taking this time to get my M.B.A. and Ph.D. in business management. My company is perfectly happy to let me coast in an easy job that pays fairly well while paying for my education. After the boomers retire (which is going to eventually happen), I�ll be in a plumb position to do whatever I choose because I was smart enough to get the experience and the education. My advice to frustrated Gen Xers: PREPARE! PREPARE! PREPARE! Use this time wisely and be patient -- it will happen.
The boomers are caught in their own trap created by their own selfishness and self-serving. By forcing so many older managers into early retirement, the boomers have trashed the actuarial basis of most pension plans that were based on working to age 65. By getting my generation out of the way (born before the end of WWII), the boomers are left with poor pensions if they go early. No wonder generations X and Y are going to work for themselves and breathing new life into our economy. Well done. If the boomers hadn't been so busy feathering their nests and sticking up for each other by trying to create wealth where none existed (see Enron, Tyco, dot-coms, etc.), our economy would have truly achieved the real results formerly predicted for the baby boom. I'm a sixty-something MBA totally disenchanted with all the MBA hype, M & A focus, and self-aggrandisement of the boomers. I work for myself and have never been happier.
I am a 35 year old gen Xer, I have to admit that I have also suffered a bit due to typical poor decisions of boomer generation upper management. I work in IT As an IT Manager/Director. The big companies seem to be the issue though, small business and public sector tend to be more even handed and fiar in regards to providing opprotunity for genX.
The thing that scares me is that I have seen Boomers in power that decide who gets what job do some sad things - older GenXers get passed over due to age for younger and cheaper GenYers or young GenXers.
The fortune 100 tend to do this sort of thing and it is clearly eliminating the chance for much of GenX to have solid careers.
I don't know what the solution is, one thought: force publiclly traded companies to cap all jobs consultant or employee at 65 years of age. After that you MUST retire. That might help a little.
My advice to most 30 somehting Xers: Look for public sector employment, it really is better in regards to grey cieling if you can handle a modest salery. Lots of ways to find promotion, pension, and medical benifits.
What grey ceiling? How about a lack of entrepreneurism among the gen-Xers? What about not daring enough to take on new challenges? Start your own company and stop complaining!
The acid test for those of you who think you are ready for upper management at age 32 is this: can you leave and do it some where else?
Can you start a company on a shoestring and pay yourself what you make now?
Can you work as a true consultant (not a temporary contractor) with fixed fees and deliverables, and earn at least twice what the company pays you?
Can you go to a smaller company without all that infrastructure behind you and increase its sales 100 to 500% a year?
If you got the chance to work in a structured corporate environment and see the way things have to be done at different levels of business size, thank your lucky stars, and try to learn something from those in the 50s who learned from a very serious and organized bunch of World War II veterans, and survived the butchering of our manufacturing by young MBAs, bankers and politicians who couldn't manage the operations side of anything.
We all know there are not enough qualified workers to fill the 77 million jobs that boomers now hold. What I mean by qualified workers are people with degrees, special skills etc.
With that said, companies will be offering Boomers incentives to continue to work rather than trying to get rid of the Boomers.
This trend will make it more difficult for younger workers to move up the corporate ladder as older workers will become more valuable to corporations.
It is simple supply and demand.
This article was right on! I am stuck behind two boomers who aren't going anywhere. I am ready to leave for consulting soon...
I'd be interested in how "senior" a writer Anne Fisher really is. It is true that some people get comfortable and just take up room and resources - but this happens at all levels. It's also true that there are a LOT of people in this world who have entitlement complexes, who believe that because they think they're smart, "hip and tech savvy" and know how to schmooze, that they should be on a steady (if not upward-sloping) career trajectory. If you take an honest look at your organization, I'll bet that there is some greying type who gets too little time and resources for their own projects because they are making sure routine work is getting done which rightly belongs to some of these poor young shooting star wannabees. Often the latter have some of what it takes to be effective managers, but excel at making someone else do the work and/or take the blame for what they don't know yet (and may never learn) how to do. There are some interesting observations in the article, but with "grey ceiling", Fisher is just trying to coin a sound bite. Seems like the readers here aren't letting her get away easily on that one.
I have a different take on the Boomer/Gen X/Y conflict. As a Boomer scientist and college science teacher, I have seen a dramatic drop in the depth and breadth of science knowledge in the generations that have followed the Baby Boomers. Today's science students are smart and ambitious, but they (generally) lack the broad education in the sciences that older generations had. The critical birth date for this divide is about 1965. I am talking here about the basic sciences of biology, geology, physics, and chemistry. However, younger generations are way ahead in IT and computer sciences. On the other hand, older scientists seem to be much better at setting up and solving the �number problems� that you get in high school and college. Something changed in K-12 education during the �70s and 80�s that we are still seeing today.
It is my opinion that the "Boomer" generation has had it so easy. This "pig in the python" demographic has never had to work hard for anything. They benefited from technology inovation, productivity gain etc. The whole yuppee movement is caused by boomers. They instilled greed, consumerism (beyond means in many cases), and what I feel is part of our society's social problems all out of selfishness.
Unfortunately, I doubt this will fix anytime soon. Boomers havn't saved a dime, so they will work until they can't get out of bed, because of their need to maintain a lifestyle. Gen X'ers will have to wait it out.
I'm a 34 year old Gen-Xer lucky enough to work in a small company with only 1 Boomer in executive management. Unfortunately, that Boomer is the CEO. I agree with all the comments above about their greed and dated management style. I see it over and over - slow to change, not willing to take risks, not willing to invest in technology at the expense of this year's bonus, constant reference to past experiences that no longer apply to the current business situation, etc.
Perhaps our company is lucky enough to find the best of Gen-x - smart, hard workers whose work is an extension of themselves.
It's Gen-Y that worries me - we've had to fire several new hires under 25 recently because their sense of entitlement is so high they expect to get plum jobs without showing any value.
Hello Generation X, those that I have met and worked with over the years have a lot to learn. First and foremost, there is no such word as "Entitlement". Many of you want to start off where your superiors are today without the dedication and hard work put forth by "Baby Boomers". There was no such thing as 5 day work weeks and only working 8 hours a day and expectations of receiving a month vacation. Learn from the boomers that you have faith in to see what they did to achieve their levels. Your work ethics need to be improved.....
Even though age discrimination is no longer legal in the US, Anne Fischer's original article, and all of the responses here distinguish between generations (namely baby boomers and Gen X). A similar debate could have been had between men and women 20 years ago, but equal opportunities since then has largely reduced (although not eliminated) any differences between applications of differnt genders.
Employers need to take the front foot here and open a job vaccancy to a completely unbiassed application procedure. This should encourage appropriately qualified aplicants from any generation, and assess them in the same manner. This is a win-win situation as the company ends up employing the best worker for the job, and if that's not you, it's down to your skill set, not your age or generation.
As a "Gen X'er" who is still struggling and being held back by management, I can agree with the points made in this article. But in context, if you think our generation has it bad, wait until we finally "arrive", and all of us having children in our late 30's and early forty's still have to support that growing family as we hit 70. No wonder the phrase, "Forties is the new Thirties" is taken to heart by so many of us. Best advise: Stay healthy because we are not retiring until 80, if at all...
There is plenty of room for us Gen-Xers as well as boomers. In the age of hyper-everything, we just have to chill out and gain experience. Face it- you'd have no idea how to run a major department correctly until you're in your early forties or so.
As an older Gen-Xer, I graduated HS in 1985. Ronald Reagan and subsequently Poppy Bush slashed Pell Grants for poor young people (like me) making college harder to access. Boomer-run corporations decided that off-shoring and NAFTA would be good for all of us (yeah, right- whatever)and that if we Gen-Xers wanted jobs that paid a living wage, we all needed to become computer programmers with 4-yr degrees (that we can now wipe our asses with)in order to be "worthy" of a chance for a good job in the "New Economy".
The Boomers who invented "free love" and the birth control pill then sought to take away abortion and contraception from us and those coming up after us - while using their voting clout to elect politicians who also slashed safety nets for the poor, castigasting the disabled people and the single mothers of my generation as "undeserving parasites" who were leeching off the system. Yep, Boomers have a track record to be proud of.
What I found when I graduated HS in 1985 was that there were not enough jobs to go around for evrybody who needed a job. The Classified Ads were filled with jobs that paid good - for those with Bachelors degrees and 10 yrs experience. The lesser privileged in my generation had to basically shack up 2-3 per apartment to afford the rent on dead end, no-health benefit jobs, wait until our mid 20's to go to college so that we could get enough in financial aid as "independent" students in order to pay for college. Then when we graduated in our early to mid 30's, we were still kept out of getting a chance for a good job because we had no experience (because Boomer bosses never gave us a chance so we could get any experience so many of us never got anywhere except stuck in low-wage, dead-end jobs).
Now we are victims of age discrimination as we approach age 40 as the Boomers still in charge decided to give the younger Gen Yers without experience the chances that we were unfairly deprived, so we are shoved aside again and still are not getting a fair chance so we can live, too. Many like me never got to land a good job with any health benefits that paid enough to be able to afford to save for our own old age and as we get older, the prospects of ever getting a chance to make a dcent living diminishes faster than the mathematical law of Diminishing Returns.
We are approaching 40 with unaffordable student loan debts incurred in our quest to be "worthy" of a chance for a semi-good job (that many of us never got). Stuck with student loans we can't repay, back-benched by age discrimination in the job market because we are no longer "young", while Gen Yers are getting to become bank managers by the age of 25 and able to buy homes in the suburbs and brand new cars - many of us Gen Xers who were shut out of decent opportunities when we were younger and are now being shut out of decent opportunities because we are middle-aged in a cut-throat job market.
And so many of us still cannot afford to even buy a modest home in the poor side of town, never mind have any money to stockpile in IRA's and afford health insurance on our own. And for this short-shrifting, we should just take it with a smile and suck it up and stop "whining"?
All my generation wanted was to get the same chances for the good jobs that the Boomers took for granted and be able to afford to simply live, have health and dental care, and a little bit of money to live on when we eventually get old. Many Boomers who have enjoyed more economic security than I ever will say they have to work until they are 80 - but what about us Gen Xers who don't have a fraction of the retirement savings and can't scrape enough to fund a retirement savings? My generation has been ripped off, cheated and robbed blind - and then called "slackers", adding insult to injury. No wonder we are the generation of grunge rock artists like Nirvana's Kurt Cobain with his hit "Nevermind" and the views from our point of view accurately put into Megadeth's lyrics "Foreclosure of a Dream" because that about sums it up.
As a pre-baby boomer, born in 1944, I am still gainfully employed in the healthcare industry. I have a middle management position as Assistant Director of a Clinical Laboratory Department in a large western city. My profession, Clinical Laboratory Science, is dreadfully short of qualified professionals. This is one of the reasons we attempt to retain experienced employees as long as we can. Seventy per cent of decisions made by physicians concerning the future health of their patients rely on accurate results of Laboratory tests. My profession currently has about a forty per cent shortage of registered, licensed CLTs. For this reason, we attempt to keep our staff working as long as they are willing to work in a stressful, busy work environment. You will all be joining the ranks of the retired in the future. Who do you want to be performing your Laboratory test?
I'm 45 - pretty much between the groups. The way I see it - the Boomers created and developed the corporate world - corporates in the current sense didn't exist before the 40's. And when it's your own company you can choose when (or IF you choose)to hand it over. There are more "needs" every day - it's never been as easy to start your own company, find funding, and earn big contracts with those Boomer corporations who still provide the lion's share of the work directly or indirectly. But be prepared to invest 20 years of your life and soul into building a business (and then expect the next generation to want you to hand it over like a slice of cream cake!)
Here's what I have to say to the "responder" who said Boomers have contributed nothing and that his generation can out work and out think Boomers:
A competitor magazine recently published an article that said the notion that older workers are less creative and flexible than their younger associates is largely a myth. So I'm not sure any generation has a monopoly on out thinking any other.
Joan Fitting Scott,
Skinning the Cat: A Baby Boomer's Guide to the New Retiree Lifestyles
So, whatever your age you've categorized yourself as boomer or x: Here's News! YOUR AGE is irrelevant! The real opportunity lies in taking an equity position in LIFE. Skip the angst over what jobs are or are not apparently available to you in the rat race, improve and develop your SELF if you can find it. Have the joy of a five year old and the wisdom of your years- life is breathtakingly short. ENJOY IT. In my sixtieth year, this afternoon, I will go outside to stack 10 tons of winter wood. I cant wait. Tomorrow, I will enter the blood letting arena of the financial markets to wrestle a living away from Wall St. I can hardly wait for that either. WhY? Because its my meat, and I'm darned good at it. Find your place, exploit your strength. Be a true child of the Universe.
(Female Professiona Age 30) What I have found in my family is that my mother nearing 60 and my father-in-law (nearing 70) are only working because of the outrageous cost of healthcare. They are worried that their retirements (which are both very nice in size) will not cover their health care needs of the next 20-30 years. So if we want to do something about the gray ceiling we must first do something about this country's health care problem.
After reading some of the comments from both sides, I'm saddened that our country and the workplace have become so divisive (this would explain red states and blue states instead of UNITED states). Whatever happened to waiting your turn? FACT: Most Boomers waited a LONG time to get where they are, paid their dues, had proportionately lower starting salaries and want to enjoy the fruits of their hard earned labor. Why should they be denied what they earned? MY ADVICE: Wait your turn Gen-Xer's, you'll get your turn when you EARN it through time, hard-work and wisdom. Wisdom only comes with age. It really does! Are you prepared to support 94 million Boomers? You will - with your tax dollars paying for all the social programs for the unemployed Boomers if you expect them to step aside before age 65. And, for goodness sakes, don't look behind you, because Gen-Yer's and Gen-Debter's are chomping at YOUR heels. Let's be civil. And don't forget that ONE in THREE Americans is a BOOMER! WE outnumber you! Don't make us organize to overthrow you.
Boomers in this part of the world have been challenging varying from age bracket needs to experiences expected to be acquired in the college,this has neccisated a whole lot of us in our 40's bracket to feel highly threatened with the entrants of the young bloods who are ready to combine our job with theirs.I will personally want to advice employees in the same shoes with me to accept reality and be ready to tackle head on and be focused.
The Article itself does not make any sense, the people in their 30's and 40's lack knowledge and ability,
Once in the upper level jobs they make poor hiring decisions on hiring good available talent. The telecommunications field is full of untalented 30 and 40 year olds in key jobs.
I am 59 yrs old, trying to find job, since April 2003 with no luck. So, I applied for a seasonal job with a major department store. I hope this job would a temporary, but it is not.
This is job is part-time, and hope to be full time.
Down size 2X with the same company and retired from the Federal Goverment. The Government job was the Dept of Defense, the base was closed by BRAC.
Yes, younger people are holding boomers back. The reason: companies have the expectation that younger people will accept lower wages and benefits, thus helping the employer's bottom line. In my opinion this is a falsehood.
Boomers are more likely to stay with a company longer than younger people who are looking for constant advancement and higher pay and benefits.
Boomers have skills, knowledge, and wisdom that younger people have no concept of. This experience is invaluable to an employer, however many employers do not recognize this and have a bias against older worker and set them up to fail, to fulfill their own preconceived notions.
Management in the US in general has a very shortshighted approach to business, unlike the Japanese who look at least a decade into the future and respect older workers. This why they are kicking our ass in the automobile industry, electronics, and innovation in general, which we are stuck in the mud with hindbound notions and endless buracracy, governmental interference, red tape, company politics and Wall Streets expection of quarterly profits and daily scrutiny of stock valuations that focus on the short term.
That is why we are losing our edge to Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, South Korea, Singapore, and other countries that will take the world leadership position from the US as we continue to allow jobs to bleed overseas.
Younger people have a place in business and industry, but can learn much from older mentors.
In summary, older workers can benefit employers in ways that younger management cannot even imagine because of their age bias. Forward looking and intellegent younger managers welcome older workers, and help them be successful.
Many of our government, business, and industry leaders need to open their eyes. As Bob Dylan said, "the times they are a changin". However, they are not changing in our favor. Our high paid CEOs need to come out of their offices and learn what is happening with their employees and our country.
Older workers can offer insight. Hopefully, management is listening, but I am not confident of this.
Age discrimination is illegal, but is rampant in the business world. When will these laws be strictly enforced?
Well kids, I'm a GenXer and I've realized that there is no getting around the boomer-clog on the upper end of the corporate ladder. These people are living longer and there's too many of them. Remember their motto - "Don't trust anyone over 30"? Well guess what, now they don't trust anyone under 50 and you'll get passed over, time after time for that promotion until you're finally in that demographic (and their all gone).
So, rather than to contribute to their power base by working for them, I work for myself and contract with them. Heck, I employ them now.
I'm taking what's mine because if I wait for the boomers to give it to me, I'll never get it. In the meantime, I'll end up retiring before most of them and that'll be the sweetest revenge of all (for me and for my grandparents who also think the boomers don't have much to be proud of).
Boomers are actually getting shafted by outsourcing, H1B visas and a youth obsessed corporate mentality.
I'm 51 and work in a high tech - high deadline environment ... my fellow boomers embraced and shared knowledge will all the temp Gen X employees that joined our workforce. It has been my observation that a large percentage of this younger generation has an entitlement attitude that negates whatever talents they bring to the table. Tardiness, impatience and knowledge hoarding are traits common to many in this generation ... they think they should run the show ... but don't want to pay any dues. Someone needs to remind them that the workplace is not a videogame where you erase obstacles ... this group of workers needs to EARN their future like the rest of us did. Afterall ... those BOOMER parents that enabled your educations and lifestyle are probably still supporting so many of you. They don't OWE it to these young turks entering the workforce to just step aside. These younger generations can grow up and face the music - the working world is not going to spoil them like their parents did. It's called work for a reason ... not PLAY.
HEY - dear younger generations ... we boomers are not your enemy ... don't forget how many decent middle class and high tech jobs are being outsourced to India and other call centers. Your anger is misdirected at your parents' generation when it should be directed at the greedy corporate corner offices that consider us all to be disposable commodities. We shouldn't fight each other ... but join forces to keep the American business community competitive and responsive to all of our needs and DREAMS. Open your eyes to the WHOLE picture ... not just your perceptions.
This Blog was absolutely way too long for me to read through it, and as a 23 year old that has been in the work force for two years now. I don't see a whole lot of issues with the Boomers. Today, there are more businesses and money to share than ever before, there are more millionaires than ever before (taking inflation into consideration), so what's the big deal if boomers are still here or not. Most of them will work longer because they didn't save correctly, and were banking on SS a little too much, so be it. This is life, things won't change that rapidly, so this'll have to suffice. On top of it all, why are people complaining about lack of promotion? If you aren't getting promoted, then it's not because someone is blocking you, it's because they don't feel you can do the job, and you aren't on your way to do the job. Everything happens for a reason, try and figure it out without blaming everyone else. Now, back to work!
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