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Learning from Gen-X, millennials to embrace change

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Kimberly L. Reay
  • 349th Maintenance Group

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – As the holiday season begins and the year comes to a close, it is a good time to review the goals we each set in our personal and professional life.  What were we looking to accomplish this year and what can we improve on?  Did we take care of ourselves and our family members? What about that Airman that just needed a little extra encouragement to get over a hurdle that might have been holding them back from becoming the person you know they can be?  Step out of your office, wherever that “office” is, and really interact with your world.  In our busy lives of doing more with less, sometimes making a little more effort can really make a difference in helping someone in need. Basically, just being a good wingman.

In my more than 33 years of service, I have seen many people come and go, and the way of doing things comes full circle.  I used to be one of those people who did things because, “that was how we have always done them.”  But what I have learned is, by embracing change, we can find new ways to complete our tasks more efficiently, and this allows for the time to reach out and interact with those around us on a personal level.  Change may involve going back to school to take those computer classes to help us better understand Microsoft Excel can do more than create a box with lines in it.  Part of this change has me interacting with Generation X and Millennial generations.

I, as a Baby Boomer, may not completely understand what motivates those considered a Gen-X or Millennial, but we owe it to ourselves, and to them, to learn.  Gen-X and Millennials want to understand the “why.”  No longer are phrases like “because I told you so” readily accepted.   When they know the goal, when they are shown the big picture, those in the younger generation will be more open to providing new ideas which will lead to improving the outcome required for us all to get the mission done.  Spend the time to learn who the Gen-X and Millennials are, where they come from and where they want to go.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions because you think it’s none of your business.  Those generations are also tech savvy, so enlist their help and listen to their ideas.  They just may have the answer you were looking for.  When we take time to understand a person, it allows us the opportunity to create an environment that works for us all.

By taking care of our personal and professional family, we create a better, more enjoyable personal and professional environment.  Start accepting change and the new and efficient processes created to make our jobs more streamlined.  As we navigate through our careers, understanding what motivates people is an important step to accomplishing the Air Force mission. Remember, we are not guaranteed tomorrow, so let those who are important to you know that you care about them, and however you celebrate the holidays, stay safe and reach out – be a good wingman!