Warning: Monday Morning Rant About to Occur
I’m sorry that this may turn into a Monday rant. I prefer a positive approach but I’ve grown increasingly irritated with the generalization of generations.
I recently touched on this in an article called Hey, wait, I think I’m a Millennial, too . It seems I wasn’t alone and many people shared the same sentiment.
It’s to the point of information overload and we tend to discuss everything in terms of generations. A few years ago, I bought into all of this as well when it first became a hot topic. I read the books on managing by generations and it seemed to make sense – at that time. But, as my younger self would say, I’M SOOOOO OVER THAT NOW.
Sure it’s true that for the first time in history, we have several generations working side by side. And we all know that Millennials are lazy and don’t want to work past 5:00 plus, all they do is text. We also know that the Baby Boomer is really a stick in the mud and ignorant when it comes to technology, right?
See how silly those last two statements sound?
But that’s what we do. We don’t do ourselves any favors by making generalizations and assumptions.
I’m a baby boomer and many ideals espoused by the Millennial are just as important to me. And so much talk seems to be about the Boomber versus the Millennial. What about the generation in between? The Gen X seems to be a forgotten generation.
Sweeping generalizations turn into assumptions and there’s nothing good about an assumption.
When we make an assumption, it means that we are blind to the truth. It means that our critical thought process has been thrown out the window. It means that we don’t fully understand a situation. And when we don’t, we have a tendency to fill in missing information by making up information that seems to fit into the story.
Assumptions are dangerous – inside and outside of work.
The key is to be able to effectively address and take advantage of the values and expectations of each individual – not generation – but each individual. Don’t follow blanket stereotypes.
Communication is always better than assumption. Strong managers build strong relationships with their employees. They don’t build it by generations – they build it with individuals.
Ongoing and open lines of communication will keep professional objectives clear, projects focused, and will lessen any potential workplace conflicts.
It’s all about communication.
The foundation for this type of communication comes in the form of one thing, understanding.
There are three simple ways to get to know your individual employees and to improve communication:
- Ask Questions
- Listen for Answers
- Act upon it
If you want employees to thrive, understand what type of atmosphere they need in order to work best. This may mean everything from the work to the relationship with co-workers and even the physical environment.
Questions to Consider:
How Do You Want to Develop Professionally?
It sounds so simple but too many managers do not make a habit of asking this question. Organizations know that having a skilled team pushes results. Don’t think that the Boomer doesn’t have a professional development plan.
Most employees want to continue to grow and develop their career. Professional Development is energizing.
What Do You Really Love to Work On / What Motivates You?
There are things we love to do and things that drive us crazy. We can’t always get away from those mundane duties we dislike but it’s important to understand where the talents and desires lie within our employees. Being happy can lead to greater productivity and greater job fulfillment. Assigning projects and tasks based on interests often produces the best results.
How Do You Like to be Managed?
Does your employee like to be left alone to do their job or do they need regular sessions to “touch base”? What level works for them? Work will be less frustrating if both can agree to a style that compliments.
How Do You Like to Receive Feedback?
This will go a long way to combat potential conflict. Some employees also need or want feedback more frequently. Some employees don’t want to see you unless there is a problem. Ask them what works best.
How Do You Like to Communicate / Interact?
Some people love face-to-face interaction and some people are just fine with short emails. Are they a “bottom line” person or do they need more of an overall explanation? Do they enjoy participating in company functions or do they prefer to keep your social life and work life completely separated? Not everyone wants to be in the “birthday club.” Everyone has a communication style that suits them. Pay attention to each other’s preferred method of communication.
What Are Your Ideas?
Employees have lots of ideas on how to improve the business. After all, they are involved in the day-to-day happenings on a very tactical level. Managers love innovation and critical thinking. They also love better ways of performing the work. Never underestimate the ideas that your employees bring to the table.
How Do You Want to be Rewarded?
You may be surprised by the answers. You don’t always have an accurate picture of what your employees truly want. But if you give them a chance to spell it out for you, you’ll have a clear vision of how you can motivate them. If you can change up your reward system to incorporate additional days off, alternate work schedules, work from home, casual Fridays, or a structured bonus program, they’ll likely be more willing to put in that extra effort.
Okay, I guess I did have a bit of a rant-like post. The bottom line is this: Get to know the individual and not the generation.
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