Last week’s post, Identifying Generations in Your Workplace, focused on identifying and understanding the five generations in the workplace. Now that you’re able to identify the generation a coworker represents, here are some specific guidelines for bridging the generation gap at work.
Learning to adapt your communication style to those with whom you communicate is an important key to success in the workplace. Although I’ll provide some tips below for communicating with each generation, here are some general guidelines for communication that will work with anyone in any generation.
1. Understand a person’s generational characteristics, but avoid stereotyping.
2. Communicate respectfully and choose your words wisely.
3. Listen well and with an open mind.
– Communicate directly and follow formal communication procedures
– Have in-person, face-to-face conversations whenever possible
– Be honest, but be polite
– Show respect for their experience and the traditions they helped create
– If you call, be sure to call their office phones, not their cell phones, unless they’ve specifically invited you to do so
– Show them the benefits to the greater good of the team or organization
– Involve them in problem solving, they love a challenge and “play well with others”
– Believe them when they say, I’m here for you if you need help- they’re great team players
– Give them time to make decisions, they like to do their homework and won’t make decisions impulsively
– Praise them for their accomplishments and give them opportunities to be involved in projects that will help them advance their status or position, which is important to them
– Focus on what’s fair to everyone
– Focus on the bottom line
– Communicate face-to-face or via telephone
– Show them WIIFT (What’s In It For Them), such as achievement of personal goals or benefits
– Prove your ability, they won’t care about your title or position
– Focus on outcomes and avoid micromanaging
– Give them the flexibility in scheduling whenever possible
– Provide plenty of opportunities for interactive communication
– Communicate informally and personally
– Focus on the positives
– Inspire them
– Provide opportunities for collaborative problem solving
– Include them
– Provide feedback and positive reinforcement
– Let them know their input matters
– Focus on goals and outcomes, not rules and procedures
– If procedures must be followed, explain why
– Use technology to communicate, they’re more likely to respond than if you leave a voicemail
– Respect their desire for work-life integration as long as they’re getting results
– Provide variety, they get bored easily
– Communicate one-on-one if possible, even if via an electronic channel
– Be authentic and fearlessly transparent, that’s the only way you’ll gain their trust and respect
– Treat them as peers, not like children (even if they’re younger than yours)
– Don’t micromanage but check in regularly to show you’re there to support them