Consider the context and create great teams
I recently heard that Millennials do not like being referred to as Millennials, and who can blame them. Often, something unflattering follows the term. Even the mere word evokes knowing head nods from a room full of Baby Boomers.
As a college professor, I interact with Millennials on a daily basis. Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history. They’re the fastest growing generation in the workforce. And by 2017, they are predicted to outspend Baby Boomers.
We can’t neatly put each generation into a stereotype box, but we can use these broad strokes of information as clues to how we can best communicate with one another. Understanding why the members of the “other” generation are the way they are and how to bridge our generational gap is extremely important. Understanding how to effectively communicate among generations is important for everyone, as we interact with each other on a daily, continual basis.
I was interested to read a blog post in the Huffington Post about Millennials. The author attended a conference on Millennials where the CEO of The Center for Generational Kinetics, Jason Dorsey, was one of the speakers. The top five interesting perspectives and opinions the author noted in a humorous way are:
- Eye contact is an increasingly unnatural behavior for Millennials.
- Emails are OK. Just don’t expect them to read more than the subject line.
- Phone calls are often seen as an invasion of privacy, so don’t call them unless your name is Mom. (And even if it is, they will still forward you to voicemail — which they never check.)
- They will not read blocks of text. Save the effort.
- They are visual thinkers and learners. Do not try to educate them or sell them something using a long, linear approach.
I have learned from my own experience that most of these examples ring true. According to Curt Steinhorst, the preferred methods of communication for millennials Millennials are text, email, and social media. Think about the technology this generation is immersed in every day and how it shapes their context. Thinking about the popularity of YouTube makes you realize how the internet has shaped this generation into visual thinkers and learners.
Inc. recently listed nine tips for communicating with Millennials which not surprisingly, corresponds with the perspectives listed above.
- Keep it brief, but meaningful
- At the same time, provide detail
- Choose the best medium for communication
- Understand the 24/7 communication cycle
- Communicate the path to career growth
- Don’t condescend or make jokes about age
- Demonstrate fairness in the workplace
- Commit to a social bottom line
- Nurture their passion
Twitter has helped Millennials convey their thoughts in 140 characters or less. They appreciate brevity. At the same time, they are outcome driven and want to know what the end result should be and what they need to do to achieve it. Just be concise!
One of the largest generation gaps is in the workplace concerns how we work. Baby Boomers measure work ethic by hours in the office, where they are seen. Millennials exist in a world where communication is available 24/7 and productivity can occur outside the office walls. That same technology has broken down hierarchy for this generation. They can communicate via social media with celebrities, politicians, and even the president. They see no issue in approaching the CEO with their ideas and opinions. Millennials want to be taken seriously, and sometimes believe they should be promoted within two years. It’s important to let Millennials know how they are doing and what their career path looks like. Finally, Millennials are passionate. Communicating how they can meaningfully contribute to a greater good is very important to them.
Great teams can be formulated from the experience of the Baby Boomers and the enthusiasm of Millennials. Understanding where each generation comes from will help us better communicate and foster wonderful multigenerational relationships.
If you are a Gen X’er or Baby Boomer, what key strategies do you have for effectively communicating with Millennials?
If you are a Millennial, help us be better communicators. What do want us to know about communicating with you?
Make this the year you start to bridge those generation gaps. You may be surprised by the results.
Lisa Brown, CPA, CGMA, is an assistant professor, accounting & finance, at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. Among the topics she teaches are accounting principles, corporate taxation and corporate finance. Brown previously worked in public accounting for Balestra, Harr, Scherer, CPAs in Ohio and in industry for an Ohio school district and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She is a campus presenter for the Indiana CPA Society and a member of the Fusion Network, a group of Indiana CPA Society member CPAs who blog on trends, new ideas and innovation in the CPA profession.