Generations at work

gnerations at workAt workplace, we are required to communicate across generations. While a Consultant could be from the ‘Veterans’, an office boy or technical assistant is most likely ‘Gen Y.’ Building a rapport or setting the stage happens before communication and so, knowing their broad characteristics aids in the ‘strategy’ we adopt.
I. The Veterans (Born 1925 to 1946 – over 72 yrs of age)

Characteristics: Hardworking, Conservative, Dedicated, Respectful

Possible perception of them: Rigid, Autocratic, Risk averse

Strategy for rapport and talk:

  • See that you have adequate time if you want their ‘buy in’ on an issue
  • Address them as: Sir/Mam
  • Be prepared to listen to their flashback stories of success, over and over. Patience.
  • Present your views bit by bit. Your persuasive skill is at the ultimate test.
  • Be prepared with contingency plans. All kinds of ‘what if’situations.

II. Boomers (Born 1947-1962- 56 to 71 yrs of age)

Characteristics: Competitive, Optimistic, Team Player, Youthful

Possible perceptions of them: Self centered, Political, Workaholic

Strategy for rapport and talk:

  • They love debates and handling opposition
  • They accept a point when the explanation is sound and supported with credible data
  • Mildly suggest or share someone’s view point ,contrary to theirs, then slip in yours and ask for ‘guidance’
  • They will most likely spend long hours in the office. For a one to one rapport, that could be the time you could catch up. Share what you can add on to their life. Help out with the latest in phone apps and software
  • ‘What’s in it for me’ is very important to them. Once they see this, ‘the buy in’ happens
  • Before presenting an idea, go with all due diligence and homework done

If you are a ‘Boomer’, you will have to work towards convincing the youngsters that you are open to challenges, have a very healthy, youthful competitive spirit and are eager to learn from them. All your brain storming sessions are with the intention of exploring possibilities from a common shared pool. Your ‘Proactive’ and preemptive thinking is more due diligence and not pessimism.

III. Generation X (Born 1962-1981- 37 to 55 yrs of age)

Characteristics: Keen on ‘Work life balance’, Independent, Practical

Possible perceptions of them: Sackers, Selfish, Impatient

Strategy for rapport and talk:

  • Connect with them on family issues and with family, if they are open to it
  • Performance is of utmost importance, especially if your job leads to their KRA’s
  • If you are in their team, play your part well and on time
  • They are in a hurry to achieve their goals and have limited patience to hear excuses or lengthy explanations. They focus on bottom line and deliverable outcome.
  • Since they are independent thinkers, they want net contributors and collaborators, and don’t like detractors or drag effects to their scheme.

If you belong to Gen X, spend time in communicating the message that impatience does not mean intolerance. Your agenda is clear and you are not there to sack people who do not measure up. You are selfish to the point that your organisational goals, aligned to yours, should be met.

IV. Gen Y (Born 1982-2002- 17 to 37 yrs of age)

Characteristics: Technical Minded, Geeks, Fun seeking, Fast

Possible perceptions of them: Short attention span, Disrespectful, Spoilt

Strategy for rapport and talk:

  • They expect quick, instant, short responses. Go well rehearsed with your talk, as time you will get is limited.
  • Talk in monosyllables, as short as bytes. They categorize and calibrate people as they would a device, by way of ‘response time’. Intolerant to verbosity.
  • Technically savvy, used to working in silos, so very comfortable with virtual meetings and mails or text messages. Often use What’sApp chats as official Business communication
  • Get used to their new lingo, the meaning of all short text language and with keep abreast with the new additions to their colloquial language.

If you are from Gen Y, be mindful of what most seniors think about your generation. Since your life revolves around devices and internet, business, chats and interactions in personal life are often virtual. In a personal one to one interaction, please appreciate that your appearance, behaviour and non verbal communication attributes to 93% of the total communication. Words account for only 7% of our communication. (Albert Mehrabian model)

I draw your attention to the fact that what you type into your device is only 7% of the communication that is transmitted. In official business writing- we do not even have the help of those little emoticons like we do in text and What’sApp. So work on your Body language, Etiquette, Para-linguistic, Emotional connect and Appearance. Communication is not what you think but what the receiver perceives and,

‘The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has happened’- George Bernard Shaw

Happy mingling and working across generations.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Kanchan Purohit

Image Consultant, NLP Enthusiast

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