Mentoring Milliennials crucial to Team Hill's future success

  • Published
  • By C. Brent Metcalf
  • Director of Operations 367th Training Support Squadron
In these times of scarce resources it behooves all of us to make the best use of what we have. Gone are the days when there was time, money or people to misuse any resource or answer every whim. Almost everyone is aware of the fiscal challenges our nation faces. My focus is on the human factor -- people -- the most important asset of Team Hill.

The demographics at Hill Air Force Base mirror those in the rest of the nation. I am one of the 78 million Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, that make up 26 percent of the U.S. population and are the largest portion of Hill's 11,501 civilian work force. According to Daniel Robinett, chief of the Civilian Personnel Division, over 18 percent of us are eligible to retire -- that means over 2,100 of us are ready to leave the work force and join the 2,575 workers who retired from civilian jobs at Hill during the past five years. That begs the question; "Who is going to do our work?"

The answer is clear -- the younger generations. Generation-X, the 46 million born between 1965 and 1980, make up 15 percent of the U.S. population according to Internet sources. The 75 million in the Millennial Generation, born between 1980 and 2000, comprise 25 percent of the population. Clearly, there are too few Generation-Xers to replace Boomers. Most of them have already established their place in the work place. That leaves the Millennial Generation to replace retiring Boomers.

Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S. history and the largest since the Boomers exploded onto the scene. Generally born to working parents, Millennials have more disposable income than any previous generation. They generally had strong family relationships during their teenage years. Millennials are used to being praised regularly and being rewarded for their efforts -- Millennials expect immediate gratification. They are generally overachievers academically and make strong personal commitments to community service. Millennials have had constant media stimulation and are tech savvy. They are a generation accustomed to quick answers, the constant flow of information and new ideas.

Millennials bring unique characteristics into a Boomer-dominated workplace, whose experiences were very different. As teenagers, Boomers demanded change through rebellion and revolutionary tactics. They were against an unpopular war and the military draft. It was a generation of conflict; friends died in Vietnam, President Kennedy was assassinated, and the political establishment was routinely challenged.

For Boomers and Millennials to work together, we must find common ground. Both generations are smart, fast-paced and passionate about what they do. Although our life experiences differ, we share common goals and should be able to work together extraordinarily well. We Boomers have a lifetime of experience to share with Millennials through coaching, teamwork and cooperation. In turn, we can learn a lot from them, such as how to use social media and new technology. Mentoring and reverse mentoring is key to helping Team Hill achieve success. As Boomers retire, Millennials will step into leadership roles, joining Generation-Xers. They will be better prepared with knowledge gained from Boomers' vast experiences.