Today’s Morning Buzz is by Patrick Mohorcic. Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn
- What I’m Reading: The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple
- What I’m Watching: Seinfeld
- What I’m Listening to: Going to the County by Caamp
Over these past several months, the ELGL community has focused on workforce development for local governments. Specifically about how local governments can attract and retain young professionals. My last post discussed rethinking job descriptions and how HR professionals can better sell the local government profession to young professionals. This post will focus on how the Baby Boomer generation can help in attracting and retaining young professionals in the workplace, specifically, through mentorship.
Not many people find themselves pursuing a local government career right out of college. Most fall into it by happenstance (if you don’t believe me, go listen to the GovLov podcast), and when they do, it can be overwhelming. Local government is not traditionally taught in schools, so new employees do not understand zoning laws, planning commissions, budgets, and taxes. It is a complicated ecosystem that is difficult to learn for many people. This is why having a mentor is crucial for early success in local government.
With the baby boomer generation preparing to retire, many local governments are trying to “build a bench” for the next generation of leaders to take on senior management roles, which can be daunting for the millennial and gen z generations. This can lead to young professionals leaving the profession or not even entering it at all. The number one thing baby boomers can do in promoting local government careers is to become a mentor to a young professional. Creating a soft landing for young professionals by guiding them through local government processes, regulations, and standard operating procedures will help new hires understand the work they are doing and how to get things done in a bureaucratic environment. The younger generation wants to make a difference, the older generation just has to show them how.
This may not be easy for both the baby boomer and younger generation. The baby boomer generation may feel they are being forced out by giving up responsibilities, projects, or titles they like and may no longer feel useful. The younger generation may not like being told what to do or like doing things a certain way. Both generations have to put their egos aside and do what is best for their communities.
I have had a multitude of mentors in my early career. I have had mentors with over 40 years of economic development experience, one was mayor for 26 years, and others are older young professionals who have made a career in local government. All these mentors have helped me rapidly grow in my career. I relish the fact that I get to learn from their mistakes so I do not have to make them myself. And my mentors love being a mentor because they like being sought after for advice and it makes them feel useful after they retire. Most of my mentors are from the baby boomer generation, and they graciously have given me more responsibility, which has helped me stay in local government because I can see myself making an impact on my community and organization. The Baby Boomer generation has a wealth of knowledge, they have seen so much and have a plethora of local government experience. They play a huge role in developing the next generation of leaders and need to wear this hat with honor. They are still needed today. Meanwhile, millennials and gen z need to embrace the baby boomers’ guidance and simply be able to say, “Ok, Boomer.”