Communicating across the generations: Management Tips

Published by | Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Manage effectively across generational lines.

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Being a leader means working with many generations. One of my favorite generations are the millennials, also known as Gen Y. Often reared by more engaged, hands-on parents than prior generations, the average millennial’s childhood benefitted from more daily structure and parental interaction.

Unlike the more parentally dictated childhoods of the baby boomers and Gen Xers, millennials were often raised having regular dialogues with their parents. Parents of millennials didn’t always mandate to their children, “finish your breakfast!” Instead they might ask, “Didn’t you agree that you would finish breakfast before playing video games?” And in response, a millennial child may very well have negotiated with his or her parents—right there at the breakfast table.

Those kids have grown up and now represent a large part of the workforce—and managers have noted that millennial employees often expect conversations, dialogues, and collaboration. Dictating a course of action without considering your team’s feedback may be your right as a leader, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the smart choice. If millennials on your team sense you look down on them or don’t want their input, you could lose their enthusiasm and support.

Let’s be clear: Seeking input from millennials isn’t about simply appeasing them. If you’re sincere, they’ll know it and will open up. You might be surprised what you hear—if you’re listening.

It’s not just Gen Y you have to think about, however. My second, members-only video this week dives into the spectrum of generations in today’s workforce. Listen and learn, because as your career progresses your communication skills will have to cover an increasingly wide range of ages, and to a certain extent they’ll all speak different languages. Good luck!

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