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Messages count.  Know that what you say and how you say it makes a difference.  Small, daily actions add up to a larger communication pattern that either draws others in, or pushes them away.  Communication across the generation gap is flexing and employing media and methods that appeal.

What to do first? 

Ask yourself:

  • Are your methods of communication current and up to date?
  • How often do you communicate?
  • How frequently do you engage your employees in conversation?

Ask your employees:

  • What are your communication preferences?
  • Do you have the information you need to do your job?

What to do next?

  1.  Walk around, say hello, and greet people at the beginning of their day.  Connect with people in person, by email, phone or text messaging.
  2. Connect with people in person.  At least once a month tell people why and how their work is significant.
  3. Meet with employees at least once a month to discuss work.  Ask:
    1. What’s going well?
    2. What’s not going so well?
    3. What can I do to support you?
    4. Frequently express your appreciation for employee’s contribution.
    5. Make sure your employees see the link between their work and the organization’s mission, goals and values.  Use positive messages to inspire.

Create Climate

Team atmosphere is a reflection of management tone and priorities.  Create a positive, empowering work environment.   Respect work style differences.  Consider the value or importance of work and life balance and quality of life issues.

What to do first?

Begin by imagining your team members are volunteers, not paid employees.  Identify what about your leadership keeps them coming to work for you.  Create a climate that fuels engagement – a climate that energizes and empowers.

What to do next?

  1.  Keep commitments and appointments with employees
  2. Schedule lunch with employees; take time to get to know them
  3. Keep a sense of humor, celebrate successes, and encourage relationship building
  4. Know every employees name, their family members’ name and one hobby / outside interest.
  5. Consistently reaffirm the value of the employee to the team, the department and the organization.

Clarify Career

Candid discussions about career aspirations, reputation, and sharing the lessons of experience are vital to an engaged workforce.  You probably talk with your employees about their work – do you talk with them about their career?  A good boss kills off old notions of career and commits to the workforce a future of contribution, of meaningful work, and mutual success.

What to do first?

82% of working Americans have not established career goals with their supervisor or manager.  Create clear roadmaps for success and offer clear, consistent feedback. Confirm that each employee has a career path and or a specific career or professional development plan.

What to do next?

  1.  Offer career development opportunities
  2. Work with employees to develop a list of potential projects, challenging assignments and tasks that could enhance their career – highlight the challenge and the stretch.  Let them know they can make the difference.
  3. Have a career conversation.  Make arrangements for a quiet place without interruptions.  The focus is on the employee and their career.  Ask:
    1. What do you like about your work?
    2. What talents do you have that are not being used?
    3. Are there other jobs of interest to you?
    4. Have an employee spend time with a key customer – discuss key learnings.
    5. Arrange for a senior manager to meet with your employees.  Ask them to talk about their own lessons learned and how they have managed their careers.
    6.  Discuss reputation!

About the Author

Diane, learning strategist and co-founder of The Learning Café, partners with clients to create custom learning solutions that produce business results and support personal growth. Diane is the co-author of the thought leadership chapter on generational issues in the newly published and highly acclaimed Human Resources in the 21st Century. Her articles include Generation Integration-A Case Study of How Xerox Corporation Bridged the Generation Gap Between Two Business Groups, Mentoring for All Ages, Engaging Today’s Workforce and Today in ER, Dr. Welby Meets Doogie Howser: Engaging the Generations in Healthcare. Diane holds undergraduate and advanced degrees from Pennsylvania State University. She is qualified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and a wide variety of testing and assessment tools, including 360 degree feedback.

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