The Generational Shift in the Workplace: Are WE Ready
Beyond teaching the skills and behaviors required to be successful sellers, organizations also need to infuse an element of excitement and purpose, because the millennial generation in the workforce needs to feel affirmed and convinced of their purpose and the value of their contribution.
How to Manage Millennials In The Workplace | When I …
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.
I recently conducted a workshop with a communications department for a local government agency. We were exploring the natural learning shifts from what we think we know, to what we don’t know. In the process, we discussed how we are Masters to the point that we are blind to the changing game, and how Mastery can become obsolete. One of the Boomer attendees, who loved to write, made comments at how written communication has morphed to the point of incoherence. She said that anyone with an opinion can blurt out an idea, without the discipline or decency to explore the opinion and make an attempt to eloquently communicate the idea. To her, Facebook posts and Tweets were akin to, “a dog peeing on a bench, they come up, sniff, pee and move on”. This woman was nearing retirement and was resolved that the next generation would wipe out her life’s love of prose and written communication. However, at the end of the workshop, she opened up that she had a revelation. How could she capture the essence and point of the complexity in a blog, or in a Twitter post? How could she capture her emotions and herself in 144 characters? She no longer saw emerging technology as defeat, but as an opportunity to re-engage, to learn and explore how others are doing it, to grow as a person, to use her Mastery to further the cause of effective communications in a different medium. I believe Daniel Rasmus was on the right path when he talked about how organizations needed to take into consideration the complexity of technology and the impact on the knowledge worker. However, instead of focusing how organizations can improve adoption of current technology, what if organizations focused on the advancement of ideas, with technology as a tool? As my new friend demonstrated, technology is ineffective without the creative human’s openness to developing new and exciting ways to use it.
Loving Millennials in the workplace? Now get ready for …
What does this mean for workplace learning and training? It means that Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys all have different values, behaviours and expectations as well as differences in how they want to learn.
Loving Millennials in the workplace
In working through understanding generational differences and the impact of the generational shift in the workplace, I began to discover my own attitudes changing. My focus began with wanting an understanding of the differences among the generations in order to better to foster better working environments. However, my conversations and analysis uncovered that there was minimal generational differences in relation to how we grow and develop individually. Personality traits, gender biases, social development and many other factors played roles in successful, or unsuccessful work environments, and the differences were not necessarily attributed to the generation in which one was born. Even within a generation, socioeconomic status, education level, family archetypes and other environmental factors may produce different generational results. The “Type A” personality is found in all generations, not just the Boomers. Uncovering the deeper layers, it seems to me that a 20 year old entering the workforce, a 40 year old balancing work/life or a 65-year-old contemplating life after retirement faced similar questions regardless of whether the year is 1965, 1985 or 2014. This led me to question the purpose of exploring generational differences at all. To what purpose should we understand generational preferences in work environments for overall business success? Are there other areas to study with more impact?
Multigenerational Learning in the Workplace
Language can be different between generations, as an example of something quite simple that we overlook during the generational discussion. In one workshop, a Boomer told the story of a new hire that reported to her. This new hire (a millennial) wanted access to her new manager’s calendar, so she can attend the meetings. The Boomer explained that she couldn’t just attend meetings. The Boomer communicated to her new hire she needed to see how she presented herself; she needed to earn the respect and trust the invitation to attend signifies. At that point, one of the millennial participants of the workshop spoke up. She explained that to her, respect should not be earned, but that she should have respected her new employee. Everyone should be respected in the workplace, regardless of age or any other factors. A light bulb went off in the group as the conversation focused on our generational understanding of a simple word: respect. The meaning and application of the word “respect”, and many others associated with soft skills, has evolved in our society and our workplaces. We can study these subtle shifts in narrative through open, honest and safe dialogue. It is in the process where trust and respect are built, so in a way, they were both right.