Communicate with the Four Generations in Your Office Employment by Suite101
May 4, 2011
Communication in the workplace needs to be effective in order to minimize mistakes. Many times managers scratch their heads trying to figure out how the simple instructions they gave could have been misinterpreted. The basis for this problem could be due to the various communication styles of the different generations working in your office. In most companies, there are four generations working side-by-side. Each generation has their preferred form of communication and for good reason. In order to better communicate with your employees you need to be proactive in understanding their communication styles and your own. Traditionalist (1925 - 1945) Due to the economic downturns and stock market crashes of recent years, these individuals are prolonging retirement and staying in the workforce longer. This demographic is known as the “silent generation” for their focused and quiet way of doing business. They are extremely private they put in their time at the office and go home to their families. Traditionalists come from the industrial age, where individuals stayed with their companies through retirement. In other words, this group is fiercely loyal. Traditionalists prefer to be communicated with through formal written communication. Remember, most of the modern technology entered the work environment long after Traditionalists were already experienced workers. Therefore, sending emails or text is not the most effective way to communicate with this group. However, don’t be quick to say they can’t learn computers. This group also happens to be the fastest growing group of Internet users. In addition, make sure written communication is easy to read using large font. Baby Boomers (1946 - 1964) Baby Boomers are the rebellious group. We have this group to thank for much of how business is conducted today. Baby Boomers coined the phrase “paying dues.” They put their time in with their companies to acquire extensive knowledge and now occupy most of the top-level positions. Understand that Baby Boomers have a need to be respected for their years of experience and expertise. Giving them the opportunity to give suggestions will show your recognition of their acquired knowledge. Communication with Baby Boomers is better received when it’s done in person using body language and a direct style. Allow them to obtain more details by asking questions. This group embraces change and therefore may suggest better ways of improving your processes. Baby Boomers may be your most challenging employees, however, due to their extensive expertise their suggestions will be worth your time. Generation X (1965 – 1980) Gen Xers are the most independent of the four generations working in the workplace. This group watched first-hand the first of the corporate downsizing of their parents and decided “not for me.” Therefore, they are entrepreneurial in their thinking and their approach toward careers. Gen Xers want independence. They may work for a corporation,
but there is no corporate loyalty. If you want to hold on to this group offer them a personal relationship through mentorship. Gen X may not be company loyal, but they are loyal to people. Communicating with Xers should be direct, and concise. Choose email as the best way to communicate, because they are time conscience. They are constantly seeking faster and better ways to complete their assignments so they will have more time available outside of work. This group is currently between the ages of 31 and 46 years of age, smack in the middle of raising children. They desire flexible work schedule to make room for their family life. Offer Gen X employees the opportunities to work independently, with the ability to coordinate their own schedules. Give them frequent and immediate feedback. In addition, keep open communication with Gen Xers by keep them in the loop at all times of any company changes. Due to their skeptical nature, Gen Xers are looking for truth in the workplace not political correctness. Generation Y (1981 – 2000) The name Millennials is super appropriate for this group. They are modern, high-tech, fast moving, and fun. This new group entering the workplace will ramp up your environment. They will inject energy because they are extremely optimistic about the future. Gen Y is the group that grew up with team sports where everyone participates and everyone gets rewarded. When your Millennial employees perform great work they expect immediate positive feedback. As a manager, you will need to think of creative ways to reward and recognize this group to keep them motivated and engaged. In addition, due to their up bringing which encourage group dynamics, Millennials will embrace your leadership and mentorship. Communication with Gen Y employees should be through email, text, or Intranet. Express your interest in their personal development. Indicate your openness to their innovative ideas. It’s important not to talk down to them by referring to their inexperience. Instead encourage their many opportunities for career grow
Sources: • Peggy Blake Gleeson, PT, PhD. Managing and Motivating the Generations: Implications for the Student and the Employee. 2003 • George V. Russell Jr., MD. Managing Across the Generations. AAOS Now, August 2009 • Martin Zwilling. 6 Tips For Managing Generation Y Employees. August 18, 2010 • Greg Hammill. Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees. FDU Magazine Winter/Spring 2005 • Christine W. Zust, M.A. Baby Boomer Leaders Face Challenges Communicating Across Generations. EmergingLeader.com © Suite101.com Media Inc. Angela Huffmon. “Communicate with the Four Generations in Your Office.” Suite101. May 4, 2011. http://www.suite101.com/content/communicate-with-the-four-generations-in-your-office-a369418
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How to communicate with works in your office from different generations.