A column posted on Commercial Integrator, “The Problem Isn’t with Millennials, It’s with Old People in the Workplace” by Westbury National’s Brock McGinnis, triggered some emotional responses.
It was discussed during an episode of AV Nation’s AV Week, hosted by Tim Albright. I had the pleasure of being a guest on that episode along with McGinnis and InfoComm’s Rachel Bradshaw.
At the 7:55 mark, Albright offers his perception of the column. I offer my take on it, including my sense that much of the negative reaction to the article stems from the headline I wrote versus the words McGinnis wrote. Most importantly, McGinnis explains how he intends the column and addresses others interpretations of it. “I’ll write slower next time!”
The AV Week discussion (and the column, by the way) was all in good fun. It’s interesting, however, that the topic unleashed so many emotions.
Reactions to a Column, and a Headline
Some readers were pretty angry at McGinnis. These readers had several issues with the column.
Questioning McGinnis’ Point of View
Brock, what a completely disconnected irresponsible progressive liberal response you provided. Millennials ARE in fact a problem, or if you prefer a “point-at-issue”.
Millennials Are, in Fact, the Problem
Companies all across the country are rapidly reworking their HR programs to cope with the unique challenges millennials present. While it’s also true the some older employees and management are slow to adapt to change (new technologies, processes, methods) it is not 100% incumbent on the existing workforce to cater to the millennials.
Baby Boomers Took It Personally
I am 68 years old. I go to work every day starting at somewhere between 6 and 8 AM and finally retire somewhere between 7 and 11 PM. Every day. Don’t tell me I get in the way.
I cannot find many young people willing to put in the time and effort to learn the trade and do the work.
Some Took It Personally … and Creatively
I Aspire every day to do a better job then I did yesterday.
I Aspire to Inspire the younger people I interact with to do a better job than I did today, or yesterday.
I Aspire to learn something new everyday to improve my skills and to be of more value to my employer, and the other employees around me.
I Aspire to get there earlier and make one more call on the way home.
… Respect is earned, as is everything else of value.
You want it? Work for it!
If you think I, and the other Aspiring Old Guys and Gals are stepping aside because you think you are entitled to it, you need to think again.
Aspire to Grow up Buttercup.
Nobody Likes Being Generalized
As an older person, I take exception to this diatribe. Yeah, we have shortcomings. But we are people, too and everyone has some shortcomings. Ane maybe we are stuck in our ways. But sometimes, we have the wisdom to see what damage too much innovation can cause. Sometimes, perhaps more times than any of us are willing to admit, the ‘old’ way is the better way. A slightly out-of-date system that works consistently, efficiently and reliably is better than a system that has to have the ‘the current big thing’ as part of it, and does not function consistently, efficiently or reliably.
As a member of the now senior sect, who came up through the ranks when A/V meant filmstrip and slide projectors, I still start early. I still work into the evening. I still have incredibly good contacts throughout the country and I bloody well understand the technology and how it’s integrated into unique solutions to create indelible impressions on weak-minded millennials. Oh, I work with some incredibly talented and gifted millennials, too, and the things I learn from them could fill a cup…. or two. Maybe.
Some readers praised McGinnis. The column seemed to speak to these readers.
Some Millennials Took It Personally
I am a millennial, and I have been the last person to leave the office on countless occasions. I don’t want an award for this, a raise or even acknowledgement. I want to get the job done and done well. When working in majority millennial environments, I have toiled well into the night with my numerous dedicated millennial co-workers who have had strong commitment to getting things right. Many of my millennial colleagues and friends have a fire and a passion and are committed to doing lots of great work, and working hard.
Count me, editor of Commercial Integrator, among those praising the column. You can also “blame” me for much of the criticism of it.
When McGinnis submitted his column his suggested title was, “The Problem with Old People.” We ran with that in the printed edition of the magazine.
Online, however, there is an opportunity to do more with article titles. I wanted to frame McGinnis’ extremely unique take on the integration industry’s labor challenges against what I see as the default explanation of it: It’s difficult for this industry to recruit Millennials.
In McGinnis’ actual article he only lightly alludes to Millennials while referencing InfoComm’s and NSCA’s efforts to recruit young professionals into the industry:
I think both associations are barking up the wrong tree. Our problem isn’t too few young people. Our problem is too many old people, most of whom show no signs of heading for the doors anytime soon.
It’s hardly an endorsement of Millennials.
The article isn’t about Millennials versus Baby Boomers. It’s about our industry’s unique personnel challenges that include incestuous hiring practices and path-of-least-resistance hiring decisions.
Most of the criticism of McGinnis seems not to be reacting to the words he wrote, but to the headline. That’s on me … sort of.
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