Many company leaders are starting to encountering a problem with bridging the gap, which is becoming harder and harder to relate to younger generations.
Company leaders who have been in the business for 20 years and younger generations just starting out are having a hard time understanding each other. The reason for this problem is many younger employees know more about certain areas than older employees do, especially when it comes to bridging the gap between technology and social media.
And it’s not just the younger staff that is changing; the clients are also different. Instead of suits and ties, offices are becoming more casual. Conference calls are happening on cell phones, and a large portion of communication between companies and clients is online. Many companies, however, seem to be in denial about this change. In the San Diego Union Tribune article, “The Intergenerational Workplace Dance,” Alejandro Ceron, managing director, Latin America, HR Region head at Marsh Inc., points out, “some countries are in denial, thinking the younger generation will adapt, the way people who went to Woodstock started wearing a tie. Actually, that’s not happening; so corporations need to adapt.”
So how to you remedy this generational gap? The answer is in communication. Alejandro Ceron developed a wiki and a blog to encourage employees to email and comment with ideas. Joni Daniels of Baltimore’s Joni Daniels & Associates developed a communication structure that relies heavily on questions and listening so she can develop a better understanding of worldviews and factors influencing her business. And, as Richard Harmer, brand strategist at Brady Media Group, said, “You have to understand there’s more than one way to get an answer to a problem. The smartest older people understand that communication methods and tactics have changed. Many have transitioned to our methods, which makes it a little easier for me. My generation has influenced every single generation before us.”
This understanding works both ways though. The younger generations also need to learn to understand how older generations work and gain the experience needed to advance. They need to learn what worked and what didn’t before they joined the workforce. Ceron summed up the issue by saying, “It’s about how we use the characteristics of each generation and get the best of each.”