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Cross Wise Communications On Multi Generational Communication
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Cross Wise Communications On Multi Generational Communication

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This is a short excerpt from one of my workshops on Communicating in a Multi-Generational Workplace

This is a short excerpt from one of my workshops on Communicating in a Multi-Generational Workplace


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  • 1. Communicating in a Multi- Generational Workplace An Excerpt – January 2009
  • 2. Old farts and upstarts… I remember when… When do I get that promotion? What do you mean you want me to wear a suit? You’re right, but I’m the boss. I DO know how to do it best: I’ve done it a million times. I don’t DO weekends! I’m not having fun here so I’m moving on. Would you look at me when I’m talking to you? I’ll need more vacation than that to work here! But, I AM special! I worked so hard to get here and now I don’t get any respect. I’d really like to teach you… I just can’t work with these people!
  • 3. Why do we care… in the workplace? • What happens when generations fail to communicate effectively? – Turnover rates may increase – Intangible HR costs may increase – Morale may suffer – Grievances and complaints may increase – Perceptions of fairness and equity may suffer
  • 4. If we focus on differences… • Inflexibility • Intolerance • Disrespect • Hostility
  • 5. Where we see the differences… • What people talk about at the coffee maker • The language they use • What tasks they prefer to work on • How they prefer to work • How they respond to authority figures/rules • How long they stay on the job before moving on
  • 6. Four generations IABC In Born Canada workforce Western popn in Canada ∼ 2007 ∼ 2006 ∼ ∼ 1% Veterans ’22 – ‘45 17% < 3% ∼ 22% Baby ’46 – ‘64 30% < 40% Boomers ∼ 56% Gen X ’65 – ‘80 21% > 35% ∼ 7% Millennials ’81 – ‘00 26% 15 – 20%
  • 7. Boomers • Born 1946 – 1964
  • 8. Boomers – their influences • The 60s • Vietnam war • Women’s lib • Optimistic times in childhood • Trudeau era/multiculturalism • Television the dominant media • Rounds of layoffs – changed jobs/careers • Competition • First real “sandwich” generation
  • 9. Boomers − cultural influences • Fashion faux pas… – Hot pants by a landslide! – Bell bottoms and elephant pants • We were watching… – Happy Days – Bonanza
  • 10. Boomers − cultural influences • First toy excited about… – Bicycle – Barbie • Our music… – House of the Rising Sun, Animals – Satisfaction, Rolling Stones
  • 11. Boomers – characterized as… • Driven, focused and hard working • Group oriented – family and friends • Consensus seekers • Optimistic • Borrow conservatively • Save some, have some now
  • 12. Boomers – characterized as… • Open to diversity • Sacrifice for success • Idealism, vision, personal growth, soul searching
  • 13. Boomers • Lucky us… – Women’s lib/the pill – Life was simpler – No depression/relative plenty – Not so much stress re global warming, terrorism, oil prices...
  • 14. Boomers • Life was tough… – We didn’t have it hard! – Nothing was handed to us – Not so many “conveniences” like cell phones, dishwashers, microwaves
  • 15. And…on the job?
  • 16. Current workforce issues • Aging workforce, many ready to retire early • Fertility rates less than replacement • Population growth largely through immigration • Workers no longer prepared to “give it all” 24/7 • New level of uncertainty in the workplace • So…hugely increased demand with corresponding decreased supply
  • 17. Boomers – on the job • Approaching retirement? • Collegial leaders and team players • Networking/politically savvy • Casual office wear and flexible schedules • Average stay 15 years!
  • 18. Boomers – on the job • Good at relationships/uncomfortable with conflict • Judgemental of those who see differently • Sometimes value process over results • Delegation-shy • Knowledge is power
  • 19. Boomers – on the job • Want to add value to the organization…but in a way that secures their position! • Want learning & development and challenge (+ advancement opportunities for the Late Boomers)
  • 20. The basics – we all want… • Respect • The ability to self-manage work-life balance • Interesting work • Good salary and benefits • Learning and growth • Recognition • To be listened to • To feel important
  • 21. Communication • How best to communicate with each generation? • What messages resonate for them? • What turns them off about others’ communication?
  • 22. Boomers – how best to communicate? • Value face-to-face • Respectful but casual • Take time to establish rapport • Networking! • Want context • Give me everything • May have some challenges with technology
  • 23. Boomers – messages that resonate • Tie your messages to goals, mission and development opportunities • Be anything you want • Work well with others • Live up to expectations • You are important to our success • You’re valued here…I approve of you • Change the world
  • 24. Boomers – turn offs • Unfriendliness • One-upmanship • Shows of power • Political incorrectness
  • 25. Modifications – Boomers • Embrace technology – think social media, blogs, wikis etc. • Respect the ideas that younger generations bring to the workforce • Don’t assume you are in the “teacher” role • Focus on results as well as process • “Share” not “send” messages • Respect work/life balance needs
  • 26. HR implications • Get ‘em – recruitment and orientation • Keep ‘em – total rewards and the employee brand • Grow ‘em – Career development, performance management, mentoring etc.
  • 27. Boomers – get ‘em • Quality of life issues – Wellness programs – Sabbaticals http://youtube.com/watch?v=lAD_yF4SPe0&feature=related – Alternative work arrangements • Opportunities for profile • Career growth opportunities • How they fit in…who to network with
  • 28. Boomers – keep ‘em • Money and title • High profile projects • Recognize in front of peers and have a party! • Recognize hard work and how that benefits the team
  • 29. Boomers – grow ‘em • Meaningful career growth/change • Learning leading to promotion/profile as expert • Mentoring maximizes skills in dialogue, as a mentee look to prominent (a name!) mentors
  • 30. Boomers – grow ‘em Performance feedback: • Familiar with subjectivity/ relationship-based • Focus on achievements • Positive tone with development opportunities • Formal bi-annual • Confidential
  • 31. So what? • Be aware/learn about generations • Consider this diversity a strength, not a liability • Find ways to share understanding within/among your team • Set an example of understanding and respect • Experiment, have some fun! • Build flexible and creative workplaces and policies so that all generations can find themselves a spot in your organization.
  • 32. Overall • All generations have rebelled/disliked the previous generation • Remember…it’s not a box that you can sort people into! • People are enormously resilient! • We all want similar things…
  • 33. Thank you!

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