What We're Into: Communicating Across Generations

Photo via the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Generational contrasts and conflicts are everywhere in the news, from business publications to the New York Times Styles section. Though it's often reduced to clichés about millennials and baby boomers, the issue goes far beyond selfies and avocado toast: It's a genuine concern facing large and small businesses everywhere. Organizational leaders are wondering not only how to help older and younger generations understand each other's working styles and communicate effectively, but also how to harvest the knowledge and wisdom of a retiring generation, and how to maximize the potential of incoming employees' fresh perspectives and skills.

We enjoyed this recent post at Entrepreneur with advice for young people about combating stereotypes and managing expectations in the workplace. The author, Brittany Larsen, is part of the millennial generation herself, so she doesn't decry her peers' supposed self-centeredness or laziness as many blog posts do. She applauds the passion and confidence that younger people bring to work, while also encouraging them to be patient, humble, and eager to learn.

Larsen also recognizes the challenges that her generation has faced, which often stand in contrast to older colleagues' linear ladder-climbing. "The difference between the millennial career experience and our predecessor’s is that we don't have clear cut career paths," she writes. "This can lead to unclear expectations as well as confusion about where you stand. Don't let this stop you. We can learn a lot from our colleagues."

As industries shift, work habits and patterns change, and new generations continue to enter the workforce, every business will need to navigate cross-generational collaboration and transition sooner or later.

Later this summer, Connect the Grey is hosting two exploratory conversations on Communicating Across Generations. These sessions offer the chance to reflect on how generational differences affect your organization, and how you can help your employees and colleagues collaborate effectively and understand each other's mindsets and values. Join us for Communicating Across Generations in Mankato on August 9 and in St. Paul on August 17!