InsideOut Development

2 Principles for Working with Gen-Whatever

by Bob Parsons


I’ve heard for years the differences and difficulties working with Generation Y.

“They need to be managed differently”

“They are so hard to lead.”

As a 54-year-old Baby Boomer tech geek and owner of “iEverything” I believe we have more things in common than we realize. No matter the generation, if we want to be successful working together we have to think beyond our differences and focus on a few basic values. I like to call them People Principles.

Principle #1: People hate to be told what to do

I was on a plane recently and as I was putting my briefcase in the overhead compartment when I heard a loud voice say,

“Hey, I wouldn’t put your bag up there. I’d put it on the other side. Trust me, I’ve flown this flight a lot and I’m pretty good at telling people what to do.”

This gentleman probably scares off many of his customers (and co-workers) with that kind of attitude. Giving unsolicited advice elicits defensiveness in everybody. So here’s my advice: stop doing it! People won’t take it anyway.

Principle #2: People love to be heard

Since my oldest child was 5 years old I’ve been taking my kids on monthly date nights. Over a soda, I ask them questions like, “What’s your favorite dessert?" or “What’s your favorite thing to do?” As they got older I gradually asked deeper questions like, “Who is one of your heroes?”

Know what I discovered? People really don’t care that much about my stuff; they care more about their stuff. Both adults and children love to be listened to and they appreciate when someone gives them total, undivided attention.

Start paying attention…be FULLY present…put away all your distractions and quit focusing on your chance to talk. This is a great skill developed by the best leaders (and people).

The bottom line is if you want followers and want to create an environment, whether at work or home, of engagement, practice being fully present. Give the gift that keeps on giving…whether a boss, coworker or parent, you can communicate value and worth to others by asking and listening.

Category: Baby Boomers Generation Y

Picture of Bob Parsons

Bob Parsons is a highly trained Executive Coach and Talent Development Professional with over 30 years of experience helping clients take strategic action on their business initiatives. Bob has also taught at the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University’s school of engineering. A former DJ and current Santa-for-hire, Bob lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota with his awesome wife of 31 years and his three great kids. His favorite super hero is The Flash and Mr. Incredible.

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