Most of you may be thinking, “Millennials are NOT just like me!”
Most of you may be thinking, “Millennials are NOT just like me!”. I challenge you with this…could it be that Millennials share basic human desires with all other generations, however they are the first generations who are willing to express these desires? For example, as an X-er or Boomer, if you were allowed to leave the office after 5 hours of hard work, wouldn’t you want to?
Over the past year, we have held over a half dozen CEO-Millennial panels for groups of CEOs. While most participants find the content invaluable, I have witnessed that the Millennials have the biggest “ahas”, including my own Millennial self. Without fail, we hear comments from the panelists including “Wow! I had no idea boomers found it needy or unnecessary to ask for feedback” or “I never knew sharing my ideas around impactful or positive changes came off as unwilling to pay my dues or arrogant! I was trying to add value to my team.” These “aha” moments are the true takeaways for the panelists, and hopefully for the audience as well.
Bridging this gap within an organization can feel like an overwhelming task, and boomers are getting fatigued about “having” to change everything for these Millennial aliens. This brings me to the question: Why are executives so engaged and interested in participating in these structured panels, but don’t think to ask the Millennials within their own organizations these same important questions?
The disconnect within organizations on generational differences stem from ourselves – and no, I don’t mean just the boomers or X-ers, but the Millennials too! While there are generalizations catered specifically to each demographic, each generalization has an asterisk. Does every single boomer have difficulty texting? And does every single millennial sit on social media all day? Probably not.
Below are a few easy ideas to incorporate into your work environment today to create understanding around generational differences through enhanced communication!
- Ask the boomers/X-ers what the Millennials don’t do well/do well.
- Ask the Millennials what the boomers/X-ers don’t do well/do well.
- Have the Millennials and boomers teach each other off this list!
As a Leader:
- Remove all preconceived notions or “stories” about generation characteristics
- Seek to understand from each teammate:
- What gives you energy about coming to work everyday?
- What do you enjoy about being on this team?
- How do you like to be recognized?
- How do you like to receive constructive feedback?
- What would be your ideal work schedule?
- How do you like to best be communicated with in and outside of the office?
- Take a moment to reflect: is this what you expected? If so, great! If not, how might you be able to incorporate these individual requests from your team members into your role as a leader to help alleviate generational differences.
- i.e. if the team member reveals they love coming because they get to be analytical and keep to themselves! If the team member reveals they love coming to work because they get to be innovative and creative, find projects that may be more suitable for this team member, than the analytical team member.
As a Team Member:
- Remove all preconceived notions or “stories” about generational characteristics
- Ask your manager seek to understand questions:
- What does success look like? For the business? For them personally?
- How can I contribute to that success?
- Is it okay to give you constructive feedback if something is not work for me? If so, how would you like me to do that? Email? One on one?
- What’s the best way for me to communicate with you in and out of the office?
- If I have a new idea, is it appropriate to share in a group setting? Or would you prefer me to run it by you first?
Remember, bridging generational gaps is all about communication. it is a process not an event, so stay patient and as always, Authentically Curious℠!
To learn more, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more at www.profitableengagements.com.