April 2, 2019 / Communicating across generations
If you’re a Gen Xer or Baby Boomer, you might feel like you’re 100 years apart from a millennial.
With smartphones, the Internet, and texting as their go-to, this generation grew up with an entirely different set of standards for communication.
You may have learned the correct etiquette for answering the phone in your early days in the workforce. Meanwhile, nowadays, you might receive text messages from others with incorrect grammar!
In addition, there are now so many different expectations and desires around flexibility in the workforce.
When staff members decide to take a “mental health day” in the middle of your busiest season, it’s enough to make you go crazy as the manager or director of the organization!
Here are a few tips for communicating with colleagues across all generations in the workplace.
- Be very clear and specific of your expectations up front. With all of your employees and subcontractors, be very clear about what you need from them, how you prefer to be communicated with, and at what frequency. You aren’t a mind reader and neither are they. Be upfront about your expectations, and you give them a greater chance at success.
- If an issue comes up, have a conversation quickly and professionally before it escalates. The sooner you address the problem and provide guidance on what to do instead, the sooner it can resolve peacefully.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate expectations again and again. Just like with your marketing messages, you may need to reinforce expectations multiple times.
- Notice what you take for granted about what you know to do. You might be accustomed to communicating in a certain way, and get confused about why the millennial doesn’t naturally pick up on it. If you have preferences, it’s on you to assume the responsibility and explain it to your team members.
Remember… none of us are born knowing the preferred etiquette of others. We all have to learn somewhere, and the learning curve takes patience from both parties.
And while it can feel challenging trying to communicate with those who grew up in a totally different world than you, different generations also provide perspectives and ideas you wouldn’t come up with on your own.
Appreciate the value that different generations bring to the table and communicate with clarity, and you can more easily work as a team to make your organization great.