At lunch today I was reminded that the mythology of generational differences in the work place is still out there. You know, the belief that twenty year olds are dis-loyal gaming fanatics who lack discipline, focus and patience, while boomers are the opposite of all that, whatever that makes them. Whenever I hear this stuff I am reminded of a seminar I attended where David Foote, author of Boom, Bust and Echo, reminded us that twenty year olds have always behaved like twenty year olds, and forty year olds have always acted like forty year olds. I'm not sure we like to hear that stuff when we're forty but it's scientifically demonstrable.
I am amazed when I hear boomers criticizing the Gen X, Y and other alphabet cohorts. I was there when the boomers were twenty and what I remember was that we had long hair and beards and we demanded that society create jobs for us where there weren't any while simultaneously condemning the corporate life style of our parents. Yikes.
When I hear or see recruiters offering up stereotypes of potential employees I am reminded that laziness in thought and action is not the foundation of a good organization, let alone a great one. Often these very same recruiters complain about the lack of quality candidates, that they can't find anyone with experience and when they do, that experience has pummelled the creative life out of them. Where are the innovative mid-career professionals who we all know are the gold standard of candidate profiles, they cry.
May I offer the observation that talent is not age specific, passion can be found in seventy year olds and stupidity knows no age boundaries. Of course you want a diverse work force, you likely have a diverse customer base. Drop the ageism either young or old in your recruiting thinking, it is no more flattering than any of the other isms, like racism or sexism.