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Horner's Corner: Communication in a Multi-Generational Workforce

Communication in a Multi-Generational Workforce

Last week, I had the honor of moderating a panel representing the FOUR generations commonly represented in our workplaces: Boomers 1946 – 1964, Gen X 1965 – 1980, Gen Y (Millennials) 1981 – 1996 and Gen Z 1997 – 2012.

The panel focused on successful communication in a multi-generational workforce. We touched on expectations, collaboration approaches, vocabulary, work styles, and shared many best practices.

Key Takeaways to Successfully Communicating in a Multi-Generational Workforce:

Set expectations on communication preferences up front

Set expectations at the beginning of a new relationship, be it a new hire, newly formed team or transfer from another location or department. Be open about your preferences and be willing to acquiesce to a variety of preferences from your teammates!

Utilize technology whenever possible

Aspire to work smarter vs. harder! Use project management tools, chat channels, file sharing, etc.

Be open minded to an approach that differs from yours

Always keep an open mind when a person’s communication preferences differ from yours. When you communicate with them, it is YOUR responsibility to respect their preference, not the other way around!

Emoji use in email might not be cool

I know this last item shakes many of us to the core. But like most trends, the appreciation of an emoji in an email message has come and gone. Usage of them in chat channels was unanimously given a thumbs up!

One of my favorite observations of generational conversation differences is language. Slang of course, is ever evolving, but even everyday terms. Each generation expresses excitement in unique way! Where Boomers are “fired up”, Gen X is “psyched”, Gen Y is “pumped” and Gen Z is “hype”.  Regardless of how we describe it, something has occurred that gave our energy level a little buzz!

This is an unprecedented time with a broad array of generational traits, tendencies, culture and experiences meshing with each other inside each of our teams and organizations. While there are different approaches for building a successful multi-generational workplace, the areas above are a great place to start.

What have you put in place to address communication in a multi-generational workforce? I’d love to hear from you via email or my LinkedIn. Cheers!