I work for a company that has a lot of young adult employees. But there are also a lot of older employees, especially in management positions. At times, this can lead to miscommunication and tension between generations.
In my department, we have employees in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. This can sometimes create problems, but overall, we get along well. However, not all departments and workplaces have this quality.
While it’s ideal for everyone to know how to communicate and get along, I think young adults looking to advance in their careers need to be mindful of these differences and learn to manage them.
Everyone has assumptions as to how different generations behave in the workplace. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been looked down on or ignored because of my age. These people saw that I was young and didn’t give me a chance to prove myself. There are plenty of articles out there that talk about Gen Y as entitled, special, and spoiled. While I feel this isn’t an accurate representation; older generations may automatically assume these are accurate traits of all their Gen Y employees.
Even I’m guilty of stereotyping, no matter how hard I try not to. I can get frustrated when they don’t understand what I’m talking about or understand where I’m coming from. I also get frustrated when we don’t move fast enough and try new things. But the key is to be open and listen first before making judgments.
Gen Y, Gen X, and baby boomers can learn a lot from each other. Boomers have experience and have seen different things. Gen X and Gen Y may not have the same experience, but they may be just the right persons to push a new and innovative idea. When generations learn to communicate, everyone wins.
So what’s the key to success? I think it depends on the culture where you work and the people you work with. What works for me may not work for you. But overall, it comes down to communication and most importantly, listening. These are skills everyone needs to work on and the skills that have the greatest potential for return.
Do you face generational miscommunication at your work? How do you overcome that obstacle?