Millennials In IT: How To Talk To Old People - InformationWeek

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1/21/2015
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David Wagner
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Millennials In IT: How To Talk To Old People

There are certain phrases that are like passwords to the heart of your IT managers. And, no, I'm not talking about, "I bought you a fresh box of adult diapers."
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(Image: PublicDomanPictures)
(Image: PublicDomanPictures)

Hey Millennials, when the geezers you work with go to bed at 9 p.m., or try to stay awake until they realize Leno isn't on anymore, I want you to whip out your phone and read this. You don't deserve to be treated like they treat you. They've got you all wrong. They've fallen for articles written by site after site (including ours) about how you guys are entitled, spoiled, phone-addicted kids who can't go to the bathroom unless you're in a team.

Not only are such stereotypes insulting, they're wrong. Research shows that you Millennials want the same things from your careers as every other generation. Old people have been shouting, "Hey you kids, get off our lawn," since the days when lawns were outside caves. And every generation calls the next one spoiled and useless. Baby Boomers were called good-for-nothing, long-haired hippies by the "Greatest Generation." You don't even want to know what those hippies called my Generation X. Heck, they stuck us with that name. You know it wasn't going to go well. This is what they think of you:

Here's the truth. Old people are scared of you. They don't get how you easily do things that they struggle with every day. Sure, they've still got a thing or two to show you, but as long as they think you can't speak in sentences longer than 140 characters, they'll never get it.

Here's the deal: I'm going to train you, in a few simple slides, how to talk to old people. There are certain phrases that are like passwords to the heart of your managers, and no, I'm not talking about, "I bought you a fresh box of adult diapers." These are ways old people talk about work. These phrases will show them you're serious about this.

Each slide has a sentence that should work, the myth you're trying to overcome, and some advice. In a week or two, they'll stop shaking their canes at you and trust you to do something besides run the company Twitter feed.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2015 | 7:14:15 PM
Re: Engagement in the moment
@imapctnow- good advice. Though I sometimes feel like my kids would happily replace me. :)

I wonder if this all gets back to a simple thing-- people like to think they can multi-task when study after study shows they aren't very good at it.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/27/2015 | 1:36:02 PM
Re: Engagement in the moment
@TerryB- I've certainly forgotten more than they know right now. But remember the oldest millennials are 34. The oldest and brightest are starting to make real waves in organizations. In another ten to fifteen years, we'll probably start seeing the tipping point where more CEOs are millenials than not. Those CEOs are rising through our ranks in management right now.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/27/2015 | 5:22:22 PM
Re: We're all human
@asksqn- Very true. The goal was to show how "old people" had already done that to millennials and help them overcome it. But in the end, I think the lesson to learn is that we really do all want pretty much the same things. 
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2015 | 2:38:30 PM
Re: Engagement in the moment
Dave I am certain that your kids wouldn't replace you with technology! Though sometimes I think we all wonder if our kids prefer their games over us!

The multiple screens we all have access to be making the multi-tasking even more of an issue.  I have seen people in front of the TV working on their tablet and checking a text on their phone. All we need is Google glass to demonstrate how distracted we can get. 

 

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