Written by: Nicole Hamilton
It’s commonly accepted that Millennials know more than Baby Boomers when it comes to digital tech. But despite the technology barrier, Baby Boomers are still at the top of the food chain in the office. Hierarchy aside, getting along with your colleagues of any age and knowledge level is essential in order to get down to business. While we may have separate views on social issues, marriage and home ownership, there’s plenty of opportunity to thrive together in a workspace. Our generation has earned its bragging rights with a few successful Millennial tech entrepreneurs of our own, and with our general familiarity with digital tech, we can use that knowledge to bring our Baby Boomer co-workers along for the ride. They did pave the way after all. Here are four ways Millennials can help Baby Boomers learn to use the cutting edge of digital tech.
1. Respect their knowledge
Respect for one another – in the workplace and life in general – will always be number one. Even though Millennials have studied and naturally learned to thrive in this digital age, the Baby Boomers did well for themselves long before technology monopolized the workplace. They hold a lot of knowledge and insight into important things that our generation needs to understand. Not to mention that people learn better when they feel respected, as they are more enthused to listen and become educated on unfamiliar topics.
2. Do your homework
If you don’t have previous experience teaching others about technology, ironically technology can help. If you really want to lend a helping hand to the generation before you, watch a tutorial to see how it’s taught. Youtube has a plethora of How-To’s that most Millennials themselves reference pretty often. If you already know the process, you might accidentally speak in ways that assumes knowledge your student doesn’t have. Don’t forget to take a moment to get to know your colleague and see where they stand. They could know more or less than you think – and it will give you a feel for the individual’s personality. Be open to learning from their experience as well! After all, they’ve been professionals since we were in diapers, so it’s definitely a mutually beneficial opportunity.
3. Demonstrate and follow up
For something that can be a foreign concept to a Baby Boomer who’s learning, emailed instructions may not always resonate. Take time to invite them over to your work station and demonstrate. Let them watch you work on a particular task and also shoot them an email with a detailed review of what you’ve done. As you learn more about your co-worker’s level with the piece of digital tech, you’ll recognize the best route to take for that person. Give them a fair amount of time to complete a project and follow up with them to see how things are going. Always offer a word of encouragement and keep all criticism flawlessly constructive, highlighting all the things they’ve done correctly.
4. Be patient!
Patience really is a virtue. Digital tech is natural for Millennials as we’ve grown up in it and used it throughout school and our professional careers. We use it daily – be it Facebook, dating apps or just making silly GIFs. What’s fun for our generation is like learning a new language for another. It’s not easy for us to teach, and most certainly not easy for many Baby Boomers to learn. Most of us have jobs because they don’t know how to do certain things. Accept that there will be mistakes, and use those as tools to help your trainee learn even more. You never know how anxious to learn they might be. Remember how our parents were patient with us when we were learning; now it’s our turn.