Before "let it all hang out," long before "do your own thing" and even longer before "I didn't inhale," managers everywhere wrestled with dealing with their own emotions as well as those of others. Sometimes they could cross the generational lines with impunity to correct emotional outbursts with the mere threat of disciplinary action. But more often than not, they just crossed sabers or simply wished they had complainers and ne'er-do-wells in the cross hairs. For all their time and effort, yesterday's managers usually were gatekeepers using stopgap efforts to keep the troops in line. But, on the eve of the millennium, this is a different world than a scant 20 or 30 years ago. And some say it's gonna get uglier as the generations clash in the workplace over entitlements, jockey for positions in a less hierarchically organized milieu, and search for the ever elusive peace of mind, body and soul "on the job."
Silents, Boomers, Xers, and Millennials will all be in the workplace at the same time next month, January 2000. And they will all be there with their own emotional gauges and agendas.
The Silents will provide other-directed kindness. The Boomers will provide vision and values. Xers will provide pragmatism and defense of individual liberty. The Millennials will provide new civic energy and devotion to community.
Some business pundits see this as the beginning of Armageddon. They see the coming together of four generations in the workplace as the harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it. Others visualize this mixture of the generations as the beginning of the Rapture. They see the portents of the future as the New Jerusalem in the disguise of the New World Order. Still others pooh-pooh any idea of apocalyptic happenstance. Like Yogi Berra, they contend that life will go on, only it'll be different.
Whatever the outcome, one thing remains sure: Managers of all generational age groups will wake up at the dawn of the new millennium with the same headaches they had in the last millennium. Only the date will change.
So what's a Millennium Manager to do?
Don't sweat the small stuff, because it's all small stuff!
As we quietly slither into a new millennium, none of us, except the most strident and empty-headed, knows for sure what the future will bring. For some, it will be the Elysian fields, for others Nirvana, and for others still, a New Heaven and a New Earth. Others will envision themselves as generals in the Battle of Megiddo or, at least, part of the cohort that will usher in the Last Days. Whatever the outcome, chances are we'll all be here to fashion our own little managerial world in the image and likeness of, hopefully, the best we have to offer in the here and now for the betterment of the those to come in the hereafter. Happy Millennium!