Are You a Millennial Boss? Here’s How to Work With Boomers and Xers

A young CEO's tips for a harmonious workplace

Shama Hyder, CEO of the Marketing Zen Group and author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, knows millennials. In fact, she's a millennial herself. At the 4A's Transformation conference in Austin, Texas, last week, Hyder was featured on a panel dubbed "The Minds of Millennials," where she joined other founders of startups in a discussion about how her generation is changing the business world. A passionate mentor of up-and-coming talent, Hyder is also an expert on the delicate balance required for a successful multigenerational workplace.

What advice would you give millennial managers who work with boomers and Xers?

Ask for feedback, and then listen. While millennials tend to volunteer more feedback, boomers and Xers might be less inclined to, unless asked.

How can millennial bosses get the most out of older employees and facilitate a harmonious workplace?

Communication and culture are key. Create an environment in which people feel comfortable voicing diverse opinions.

What tactics should they avoid?

Don't make assumptions. Treat each person as an individual. Realize that while grouping people via a generation may help, it is important to recognize the diversity within each generation. Don't assume a baby boomer employee won't "get" new technology.

What do millennial managers find most difficult about dealing with older employees?

Sometimes they can face initial discrimination based on their age and have to work harder to establish credibility and trust.

What should boomer and Xer employees do to get along better with their millennial managers?

Reduce friction and red tape whenever possible and be open to a fresher perspective of approaching things. Millennial managers are known to ask "why" rather than accept the status quo.

When problems arise, what can each side do to fix things?

It is important to come to the table with an open mind. Set aside generational differences and personal agendas and approach the situation as objectively as possible. Having a neutral mediating party can also be helpful.