Generational differences play a huge role in how you communicate with your colleagues in the workplace. Besides external and internal factors, generational factors such as, 1) determining which generation your audience belong to, 2) attitudes, and 3) personal beliefs will define how they respond and interpret what your message.
In today’s workplace, you will find three distinct generational groups: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The speaker must be aware of the differences between each group to communicate successfully with your colleagues. Here’s a quick summary on how these generations work. To understand how all three groups think, work and prioritise, you will have to consider their family, life experiences and career outlook.
The boomer’s approach to life involves “an orderly way of the world”. Commonly raised in a traditional two-parent household, as most grew up believing in a family. The mother role plays as the homebody, the father plays the ultimate authority and the children know their place and oblige to the household rules. Baby boomers have also practised the model of working “vertically”. They are committed to a company as a loyal team member, with an expectation to grow, and achieve in a steady climb to the top. With the “do better than your dad” approach, boomers are team players at work and viewed their company as family. Boomers are not aggressive when it comes to receiving information. They are most likely to read a local newspaper or magazines which they consider reliable and are open to learning new things as long as the information is well presented to them.
Unlike the boomers, Gen X shares a different approach to family, relationships and marriages as they represented a new set of truth. Work became the centre of life while giving a much loose and open yet crucially important outlook towards family as friends and family were connected and dependant toward one another. Gen X believed in the “anything goes as long as you can make it work” message with a “horizontal” model to work. This generation went in the sequel of job to job rather than climbing to the top of their career vertically, as they strive to live a good life over money and recognition. Gen Xers are also very selective and proactive in attaining information. They practice “narrowcasting” by seeking out information through speciality magazines that only provides information on topics and subjects they care about.
Gen Yers are said to be much more real and open with their parents than those of previous generations, despite the high divorce and dysfunctional family rate. This newcomers to the workforce have given a different kind of approach to their careers and work. Born into a digital era, Gen Y has a highly developed skill in teamwork and a strong desire to be a part of a great team. They believe in working together and taking a collaborative action that will be of a greater impact on a project rather than individual contributions. Unlike other generation, Gen Yers also very much care about the organisation they work for and to continuously seek for greater opportunities that will be of help in their career growth. When it comes to getting information, Gen Y uses the Internet as a dependable source of knowledge by looking for the credibility of each source based on URLs, and how legitimate the websites look.
We have now learned that all three generations receive their information differently with various form of sources. However, what remains is the way an information is presented to get one to listen and pay attention. Whether it is done through verbal or written communication, understanding what appeals to listeners would result in greater payoffs.