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Understanding the Generations in Today’s Workplace

interracial, intergenerational teamI once managed an intergenerational team of ten people that were spread out over a large territory and I knew setting out that identifying the best communication medium would be key to my success.  I found that there was no single method that worked best for the entire team and instead discovered that I needed to call some people, email others, and text others—and often this broke down along generational lines.

Someone’s generation is not the only shaping influence to consider, yet knowing each generations’ strengths and weaknesses gives employees (especially managers) a leg up in understanding what they need to know to work effectively with each group.  For employers, this knowledge will help you maximize productivity and cooperation in your workplace.

Baby Boomers: Expect impeccable spelling and grammar in their written communication, although they’re more likely to want to discuss things face-to-face with you.  Boomers keep personal issues out of the workplace and tend to be great diplomats who are keen readers of body language and eye contact.

Gen X: While they’re comfortable calling and texting, this is the generation that mastered email.  They’re likely to keep great records of their communications and be solution-driven problem solvers.  They like getting to the point.  Get the best out of them by providing clear expectations and letting them run with projects.  Micromanaging drives this group crazy.  Their written communications are top notch—they grew up with spell check and they’re not afraid to use it!

Gen Y: If you need their attention, text them (or email as a second choice).  Call only as a last resort.  Spelling is not a high priority for this bunch—and they won’t appreciate being corrected on something that seems so trivial to them.  This generation is comfortable including personal info in their business interactions.  While they may appear distracted by what’s happening on their mobile device, take it as an asset–they can pull up timely info at mach speed.  Praise matters to Gen Y and they’re good at both giving and getting feedback