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Breaking Through Generational Communication Barriers



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Businesses of all sizes and industries are dealing with new communication barriers. According to Forbes, more than 80% of executives feel that generational communication issues, due to technology use, is the biggest challenge for their firm.

Over the past 15 years, the workplace has undoubtedly experienced more change than ever. With the addition of email, mobile phones, mobile workspaces, laptops, tablets, social networking, and even virtual offices, the business world we once knew is over. Combine all of our technology, and now you have the ability to work from anywhere, anytime, and with people from across the globe, possibly being even more productive than you were before. So with increased ways to communicate, communication should be a simple task between employees and their clients now, right? The answer depends on who you ask.

Millennials feel the more technology the better as they are always on and working. Gen X’ers, who are only one generation older than Y’s, use technology, but see it more as a convenience and are not always connected. Millennials like to email, text and tweet, and sometimes lack in the ability to read non-verbal cues. And then you have Gen X’ers who use these tools, but share much less, which can cause issues with the Y generation who have trouble with tone of voice, pauses and non-verbal cues. This can lead to extreme miscommunication in the workplace. So how can you help your cross-generational teams communicate?

  1. If employees have an issue, talk will start around the water cooler. Address issues head on by talking directly to the employees involved.
  2. Cater to all communication styles.
    • For those who want to connect in person, try “Email Free Fridays" and encourage an office lunch or coffee hour.
    • For those who love email, try sending special email offers for local restaurants and attractions.
  3. Encourage employee communication through brainstorming sessions and record all information visibly through white boards and digitally through apps like Evernote.

As a manager, it’s key to note different work and personality styles. When you recognize this, and as a result, alter the way you work with your employees, they will appreciate your efforts and work harder for you.

Posted in: Employee Relations
Tagged with: Millennials