Are You Speaking Their Language?
Never before has the workplace been more generationally diverse as it is today. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, cites that for the first time, there are five generations in the workplace. Today, it is possible to have recent college graduates supervising employees the age of their very own parents. While each generation has their different strengths and motivators, there is one commonality most
share: That commonality is the need to connect.
Today, leaders are more challenged than ever before with the need to build and retain an engaged workforce. More and more, the question that I’m asked is this: How do we as leaders and managers connect in a way that bridges the generational divide both professionally and personally?
Generational perspectives have always been an interest of mine. I grew up being very close to both my grandmothers and loved learning about their perspectives on connection. Later those early experiences led me to study communication, elder care and leadership. Recently, my passion for the topic has been peaked by some of the generational conversations that I am hearing during my communication and DISC behavioral assessment programs. More and more, I am listening to participants talk about generational diversity and the challenges they experience around perceived generational divides.
Recently, during one of my communication seminars, a participant made a remark about millennials that triggered an emotional reaction from a millennial manager that caught everyone’s attention. Soon after, I did a DISC workshop for a group of managers when the words “entitled, rude, disloyal” were used to describe the younger generation of workers.
The generational perspectives that I had been experiencing sparked a big question for me, “How do millennials feel about generational diversity and their baby boomer/managers and colleagues?” Super curious now, I gave a leadership training to university students who were enrolled in an emerging leaders program. There, I conducted a brief survey and what I found was fascinating. This specific group of student leaders shared with me their perspectives on generational diversity. They expressed their:
Desire to learn from their baby boomer colleagues
Interests in intergenerational mentorship
Values of inclusive leadership
From these experiences, I have become more aware that there is a growing generational disconnect. As leaders of organizations, community groups and/or families, etc., we can choose to lead the way from disconnection to connection among our diverse age groups.
It is likely that most of us have been involved in conversations that illuminate challenges and needs among our age diverse workforce. A powerful tool that I use to improve connection across the ages, is called DISC. DISC is an assessment tool that identifies and helps us to focus on strength zones…our personal strengths and the strengths of others.
With up to five generational groups in the workplace, there is much to learn about each group and that requires some time. The truth is, we often need faster results in our organizations. To accelerate communication and connection, I suggest starting with DISC. DISC highlights the four personality styles, identifying strengths and motivators. Through DISC, we learn to bridge our generational divides with deeper understanding and actionable tools that can be implemented immediately.
Here are some guiding questions to begin increasing your awareness about DISC personality styles:
Do you know someone who is assertive, to the point, and wants the bottom line? Some people are forceful, direct, and strong-willed. This is the D Style
Do you have any friends who are great communicators and friendly to everyone they meet? Some people are optimistic, friendly, and talkative. This is the I Style
Do you have any family members who are good listeners and great team players? Some people are steady, patient, loyal, and practical. This is the S Style
Have you ever worked with someone who enjoys gathering facts and details and is thorough in all activities? Some people are precise, sensitive, and analytical. This is the C Style
I hope this Monday’s With Mona sparks positive conversation about actionable steps leaders can take to communicate and connect across the ages. One small step towards connection can impact not only the employee experience but your client’s experience as well. And, that leads to organizational growth, a benefit that everyone can enjoy. Make it a great week!
For more information on Intergenerational Communication and/or DISC Seminars,
contact Mona at email@example.com