Bridging the Generation Gap, Part II


A view of a suspension bridge.

Bridging the Technical Gap Between Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomer’s with Good, Old Fashioned Communication.

There is some resentment among Generation X and the Baby Boomers about a sense of entitlement, lack of standardization, informal nature and poor communication skills perceived in the Gen Y workforce. As a Generation Y worker – acknowledge and understand that the techniques and rules in place at your particular job or in your particular industry are most likely the foundation of what built that business or industry. They are valid and should not be discounted and ignored.

Lessons For You – The Generation Y Workforce.

1) Have some perspective – Consider this quote from a discussion on LinkedIn about Gen Y attitudes in the workplace today:

“EVERY single piece of revolutionary technology they take for granted was developed by the Gen X and baby boomer crowd who worked 80 hour weeks, solved problems with meaningful communication and adhered to actual standards… The baby boomers and Gen X built the SR-71 and Space Shuttle with slide rules and calculators, they built the cell phone and the internet on 8 and 16 bit computers… Gen Y built angry birds, facebook and twitter … “

2) Understand that while you may have a new technologically superior way of doing something – that it takes time and money to change institutionalized rules and behavior. Change can also open up exposure to risk. Be persistent but respectful and patient.

3) Experience should be valued, respected and a tool from which you gain knowledge and insight. There is probably a good reason the old, gray haired person in the corner office is running the show. While they may not have your technological skills they may have been in your industry or at your company longer than you have been alive. Experience counts!

4) Never use your superior tech skills as a hammer or a lever to get your way or to control something or someone. Use your skills to teach, demonstrate leadership and improve process – hopefully all at the same time.

5) Take rejection with a grain of salt. Don’t internalize and worry too much if your ideas aren’t immediately utilized and if you aren’t rewarded for every good piece of work you do. The older generation expects you to do good work each day as a part of your job. They might not throw out the pats on the back and the public recognition of such as much as you are used to.

6) Even though Generation Y is expected to be the most mobile workforce in modern history – take the time to build meaningful interpersonal and professional relationships with those you work with and for. There will come a time when you will need assistance from a someone in your professional past. It is inevitable.

7) If you have gaps in your writing and speaking skills – make the effort to correct and improve this. The tech savvy Generation Y worker with strong written and verbal skills will be the hottest human resources commodity on the market – bar none.

Recognizing the differences between our modern multigenerational workforce has never been more important than today. There have always been gaps in expectation and reality between the generations – and there always will be. The key to successfully utilizing the combined strength of all of your team – is clear and concise communication and a heavy dose of mutual respect.

Generation Y will own and manage the large and small businesses of tomorrow and they will do so in a way that some the older generation may not agree with or even recognize – but today we are faced with a unique situation that demands we work together to create the best opportunity for success.

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