Communication in the Multigenerational Workplace

Posted on September 1, 2011.

I recently had the opportunity to hear psychologist and consultant Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky speak about the multi-generational workplace.  What really got me thinking was one of his first statements: this is the first time in history that we have four generations in the workplace at the same time.   That is not such a revelation once you think about the fact that people are living so much longer than they did 100 years ago, but it does make for some very diverse styles in the workplace. Everyone is aware of the much-touted differences between the various generations, but have you given much thought to whether or not you are taking those differences into account in how you communicate with your employees?

As a Baby Boomer I realize how that shaped my work experience.  The important thing is to not expect everyone to approach work the same way I do.  One of the main generational differences is communication style.  While Facebook, Twitter and text messaging are primary channels of communication with younger generations, I believe that there are some things that deserve to be communicated in a real time, two-way conversation preferably in person, but at least by phone.

According to Dr. Grodnitzky, Boomers and those older rely a lot on body language and tone for communication, which explains my preference for communicating important messages by voice or in person. The texting generations can pick up subtleties in shorthand messages that I might miss. To me, that underscores the need to communicate your message in a way that is understood correctly by everyone on your team. The most important thing about communicating as a manager is to make sure that your message is received the way you intend it to be.