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Millennials, Xers, and Boomers, Oh My!​​

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Last week, my future daughter-in-law posted the following on Facebook:

“So, can we please stop saying that millennials are killing various businesses, because I'm pretty sure these businesses are killing themselves by not adapting to a changing market.”

This is a discussion that is near and dear to my heart for two reasons. The first is that I am tired of all the discussion about the differences between Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Xers, Gen Yers, Gen Runners, etc. Yes, there are differences within these groups based on their experiences. But, when it comes to one-on-one interactions, every single person is their own individual.

When you are hiring a new employee, when you are being hired by a new boss, when you are working with a client, when you are being audited, when you are interacting with another human being (whether it is a part of your audit work or not), the person on the other side of the table is not the stereotype that you build when you start thinking of them as part of a “generation”.

Generation is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up each and every one of us.

Of course, the person’s generation will make a difference. And so will where the person was raised. And so will where the person went to college. And so will where the person has worked. And so will whether the person is in a long-term relationship or not. And so will how many kids the person has. And so will… And so will… And so will… And so will…

In other words, we have to relate to the complicated combination of ideas that make up each individual, not to whatever stereotypes (including generation) that might cloud our perceptions of that individual.

When we find ourselves building a picture of the mindset of another individual because of their generation (or any other area where stereotypes quickly rear their ugly heads), we have to step back and change our mindset about them.

He is not a certain generation. She is not a certain gender. He is not a certain nationality. She is not a certain political persuasion. He is not a certain religion. She is not a certain profession (even internal auditor). Each is a person who is made up of a complex potpourri of ideas and beliefs. And, the sooner we move past our personal mindsets of what we think certain types of people represent, the sooner we will be able to hire effectively, interview effectively, audit effectively, communicate effectively, and, in general, work with other people effectively.

So, paraphrasing the quote that got all this started, Millennials aren’t killing businesses; businesses (and internal auditors) are killing themselves by trying to push people into pigeonholes when none should exist.

And the second reason this discussion is near and dear to my heart gets to the point I really wanted to make – the one that first sprang to mind when I read the quote. But I’ve gone on too long, and I’m afraid that second point will be buried by everything else I’ve said so far.

So, join us next week when we will talk about whether or not millennials are killing businesses and internal audit.

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