Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Generation ‘X’ VS Generation ‘Y’: The Show Down (Part 2)

Posted by sweens on January 30, 2009



Let us continue with the blog entry from yesterday where we took a look at some of the generational issues that exist within the current labour market.  Today I would like to focus on the technological or communication differences between each generation.  Having a sound understanding of how each generation prefers to communicate can increase your odds of touching base with the person you are trying to connect with.

 

Traditionalists:

  By nature Traditionalists are private, the “silent generation”. Don’t expect members of this generation to share their thoughts immediately.
 For the Traditionalist an educator’s word is his/her bond, so it’s important to focus on words rather than body language or inferences.
 Face to face or written communication is preferred.
 Don’t waste their time, or let them feel as though their time is being wasted.  

 

Baby Boomers:

– Boomers are the “show me” generation, so your body language is important when communicating.
– Speak in an open, direct style but avoid controlling language.
– Answer questions thoroughly and expect to be pressed for the details.
– Present options to demonstrate flexibility in your thinking.

 

Generation X:

– Use email as a primary communication tool.
– Talk in short sound bites to keep their attention.
– Ask them for their feedback and provide them with regular feedback.
– Share information with them on a regular basis and strive to keep them in the loop.
– Use an informal communication style.

 

Generation Y:

– Use action words and challenge them at every opportunity.
– They will resent it if you talk down to them.
– They prefer email communication.
– Seek their feedback constantly and provide them with regular feedback..
– Use humour and create a fun learning environment. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
– Encourage them to take risks and break the rules so that they can explore new ways of learning.

 

 

Many of the articles I have read on generational gaps within the work force talked about how each generation came to embrace the trends they demonstrate on a daily basis and how the majority of these trends arose from events or social norms that existed and changed during their time.  For my generation it was events like the Oklahoma City bombing or the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.  But more importantly for me, it was the fact that my generation relies so much on technology as it is something we have constantly been a witness to.

 

My generation is all about access to information.  When can I get it?  How fast can I get it?  Is mine giving me a better result then yours?  As such, Generation Y uses technology to its fullest extent.  We live in a world now where most 13 year old adolescents can type faster and navigate around a computer better then their parents because they have been on MSN, Facebook or MySpace for years.  We would prefer to text our friends rather then call them.  Just one of the ways this generation works.

 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT IN THE LABOUR MARKET?

 

I would suggest that this is worth mentioning because technologies are changing and so are the people who are in the labour market.  More people from Generation Y are in the work force and in order to be able to connect with them, you need to think about the best way to do that.  I for example, monitor my email like it was my sole purpose on this planet.  But I have an issue with the phone.  I would rather respond to a voicemail by sending someone an email.  When I need to touch base with someone my first choice would be to send them an email.  I have even negotiated a contract with one of my candidates over text messaging before (their choice – not mine). 

 

Now I realize that when you begin a new professional relationship you have no idea what age the person on the other end is – unless you are meeting them face to face so this may be difficult to use in person.  But as more Baby Boomers leave the work force and more Generation Yers enter it, the demographic of the labour market is undoubtedly going to change.  Jobs are being posted on places like Facebook and MySpace.  Email campaigns can be a huge success and more and more people will be carrying a BlackBerry so they can juggle between SMS, MMS, Email and PIN messages. 

 

I would suggest that in order to be successful in the fast paced environment the work force has become these days, people should be aware of who they are dealing with and what the best ways to connect with them are.  While I think that this blog has been pointed towards older generations coming on board with technology and following what younger generations are doing, this needs to be the opposite for younger generations who wish to connect with someone from an older generation and realize that their way is not always going to be the best way to get things done.

 

Like any new large movement, the technological one and age of networking is a powerful one and those that choose not to embrace it run the risk of being left behind.  It is however important to remember where we came from as it is impossible to move forward without knowing where you have been.    

 

Please read the following articles for more information:

 

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/intergencomm.htm

http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas05/Vistas05.art70.pdf

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