The so-called ‘generation gap’ in the workplace is often simply a misunderstanding of communication among different generations. Our main job as leaders is to communicate purpose, vision and direction, strategies, changes, transition, etc. To do that, we need to have a message that is received and understood the way we intended it.
Unfortunately, all-to-often, people are stuck in their personal universe, drafting and delivering a message in the way that resonates with the way they like to receive a message… and they wonder why people say there’s a lack of communication.
The problem is not that we didn’t communicate. The problem usually lies in that the person or persons receiving the message did not understand the message because it was not in the form that they consume information.
Today we have four different generations in the workplace. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (or Generation Y) and Generation Z. The communication challenge arises in that each of the four different generations has been raised in different times, political influences, education, technology, social and economic influences. All of this ‘nurturing’ delivers different beliefs, expectations and most importantly, different ways of seeing the world around us.
To best illustrate the key differences, the following table lays out three of the four generations in the workplace today (Generation Z are just entering the workplace now and not a lot is known about what they want):
What is important to get out of the above table is that we are different and when it comes to communication, one-size does NOT fit all. As a leader, we need to be prepared to communicate not only constantly but differently. That is, we need to keep in mind the preferences and differences in communication among different generations when we present ideas and messages. These days, I have taken to developing and delivering messages for in-person, telephone, email, text, social media and video. Is the extra effort worth it? It is if the receiver understands and acts on your message as you the transmitter intended it to be.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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