Baby Boomers (And Reverse Cycle Mentor Programs)

Do you remember the very first day of your very first job?

Chances are you do.

And where you started in the work world probably played a role in where you are today.

For Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, it’s usually easy for them to remember their early working days too.

Baby Boomers tend to be dedicated and hardworking.

Characteristics of Baby Boomers

While it’s impossible to account for each person within a generational group, it is helpful to understand general tendencies or characteristics.

In the workplace, Baby Boomers tend to:

  • Be hardworking, and value hard work
  • Be self-reliant, independent, and efficient
  • Appreciate and focus on professional accomplishments
  • Have set goals professionally and financially
  • Prefer in-person communication
  • Appreciate recognition for their contributions

According to a recent Forbes article by Jasmine Gordon, “Between work ethic and sheer years of experience in the workplace, Boomers often represent a walking trust of organisational knowledge. Baby boomers are famed for their work ethic and commitment to getting the job done”.

Intricacies of working with Baby Boomers

Because Baby Boomers grew up in an era that recognised hard work but also experienced lots of change—like technology advances—it’s important to understand how to maximise their value and keep them engaged.

Consider implementing a reverse cycle mentor program

In traditional mentor programs, the mentor is generally more experienced than the mentee.

A reverse cycle mentor program does the opposite.

These programs pair a Baby Boomer with a Millennial mentor (born 1985-2002). The Millennial helps the Baby Boomer navigate social media, the rapidly changing marketplace, and the latest technologies.

And it’s about more than helping someone with their Twitter feed.

It’s about learning the latest in technology to drive business forward and maximise the talent of the Baby Boomer.

It also empowers Millennials and develops increased collaboration across the company.

Where did reverse cycle programs come from?

Since first inception in 1999 by Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, reverse cycle mentor programs have gained considerable momentum. Companies like Cisco, PwC, Procter & Gamble, and Target are among the adopters.

Lisa Quast recently shared in a Forbes article that a reverse cycle mentoring program, “doesn’t require a lot in the way of new processes, just the ability to match up employees of different generations and then encourage each team to meet regularly to exchange ideas and challenge each other”.

So, if you have a mix of Baby Boomers and young professionals working for you, why not try a spin on the traditional mentoring model?

You might be surprised by the results.

Other ways to motivate Baby Boomers

For other suggestions and ideas on how to motivate and appreciate Baby Boomers in the workplace, download this month’s Motivating Different Generations.

You’ll find great tips for Baby Boomers, along with Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z.


Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.

Thanks for sharing!