Communicating Across Generations
Generational gaps between us in the workplace are growing both in number and in size. The ability to spot and bridge them has become a critical competency for leaders, life coaches, and more. Our current obsession with digital connectivity has certainly changed the nature of communication and given all of us far more options to reach out to others. It has also spurred conflict in the workplace, as many millennials feel held back by inflexible or outdated working and communication styles. What are the roots of this conflict? Different generations tend to favor and rely on their preferred communication tool. Check out these differentiating insights.
Traditionalists – Born between 1920 – 1946
In the 40’s and 50’s, there was a model of fixed working time and place suited to the industrial age. Communicating face-to-face had a known human element to it—no anonymity. Families gathered around the radio for news and entertainment. Farm and assembly machinery represented the type of work equipment this generation encountered and used most frequently.
Baby Boomers – Born between 1947 – 1964
In the 60’s and 70’s, computers were too big and expensive for home use. Businesses used mainframe/minicomputers to process data for decision-making. Younger “Boomers” discovered “dumb terminals” in college and high school where they keypunched code and solved certain kinds of problems.
Generation X – Born Between 1965 – 1980
This generation was shaped by a culture of gadgets and tools in the 80’s and 90’s, foremost among them was the personal computer (PC) introduced in the early 80’s. This innovation helped foster a sense of personal and private initiatives among “Gen Xers.” Portable for use in homes and schools, the PC became a way to gain a competitive edge in an expanding global economy.
Millennials – Born between 1981 – 2000
First wave Millennials (born 1981-1990) entered a workplace of browsers, email, the World Wide Web (WWW), Windows, cable television, Google, and WiFi . . . learning together how to connect and communicate. Second wave Millennials (born 1991-2000) gained greater autonomy over where, when, and how they worked through various “smart” devices. Thus, the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred, and most prefer to communicate electronically rather than face-to-face or over the telephone.
Cloud Generation – Born since 2001
Smart personal devices and social media tools have always been available anytime/anywhere to members of the Cloud generation and their “the sky’s the limit” orientation. Expect accelerated and intense clashes over communication as more than eight in ten of this generation say they sleep with a cell phone by their bed. A generational lens provides a powerful and easy-to-use “set of handles” to actively engage in asking, discovering, observing, exposing, and communicating vital information and ideas relevant to maximized engagement across the generations. Healthy relationships require deep and meaningful personal connections. Our Generation Translation Workbooks and Interaction Guides help you learn more about these generations and how best to use that information to improve relationships and increase your own effectiveness. Everyone benefits. It’s never too late to get started on refining your generational intelligence (GQ). Can you hear me now?
Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at GE and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Rita frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. She has a particular gift for explaining the different perspectives of each generation and personality types to create a bridge of understanding toward healthier business relationships and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Rita resides in Moore, Oklahoma, with her husband, Ron. See more at: www.performanceok.com