Forbes
Navigating The New Workplace

Navigating The New Workplace

Four wildly different generations are now working together in one office, and it can be a Petri dish for problems. Veterans (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1979), and Generation Y or Millennials (1980-2000) grew up in different times, have wide-ranging value sets and often conflicting communication styles. Can’t we all just get along? Dana Brownlee, a corporate trainer and president of professional development firm Professionalism Matters, offers 10 guidelines for communicating across generations.

 

At a recent professional development retreat led by corporate trainer Dana Brownlee, a woman in her mid-50s stood up and starting citing a laundry list of communication conflicts on her mixed-age team. Chiefly, she was angry that the younger members rarely returned her phone calls by phone. Instead, seeing the issue as non-pressing, they typically would text or email back a response. The woman worked herself into such a frenzy that she suddenly spouted, “We need to stop emailing and pick up the %^$# phone!”

As she continued to speak, Brownlee realized the woman’s concern ran deeper than mere frustration. Her voice cracked and her breathing faltered until she couldn’t continue and sat down. It was more than anger. She felt disrespected and unappreciated.

Welcome to life in the new workplace. As people live and work longer than ever before, the modern office now houses up to four wildly different generations under one roof—and it can be a Petri dish for problems. Veterans (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1979), and Generation Y or Millennials (1980-2000) grew up in vastly different times, have wide-ranging value sets and often employ conflicting communication styles.

“I’m seeing a lot of generational conflict around differences in communication style and approach to working,” says Brownlee, president of corporate training firm Professionalism Matters in Atlanta, Ga. “It becomes a barrier that gets in the way of trust.”

The intricacies of workplace communication—what we say, how we say it and what our choices say about us—have become increasingly complex as each group brings a different set of experiences and expectations to the table.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/02/14/how-to-communicate-in-the-new-multigenerational-office/