This week's Tactics Tuesday asks the question: Are workplace generational differences hip or hype?
Network cafes are a great initiative hosted by the Australian Institute of Management to foster debate and discussion on important topics across its New South Wales membership. I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a network café for the AIM in a real café in the Rocks area of downtown Sydney.
The topic under discussion was: What are the challenges and opportunities of managing the different generations? We ran the networking session using the conversation cafe methodology. It's a methodology that aims to simulate the conversations we have in cafes with our friends when we're gathered around small tables, fueled by lots of caffeine, debating the big issues of the day and how to solve them.
You can check out Tactic 31 in "Tactics in a Box" for some ideas on how to use the conversation cafe methodology in your organization to foster debate and discussion on important topics.
Anyway, there we were in a real cafe, fueled by lots of caffeine, gathered around small tables, sharing our insights and our experiences on managing the different generations.
The conversation cafe methodology evoked a broad spectrum of insights and stories regarding what are the characteristics of the four generational cohorts, and what are the values of each of those cohorts? When each table shared their findings, two themes emerged.
The first theme is that are perceived workplace generational differences just excellent examples of how people use different behaviors to express the same core values? The second theme to emerge was that, if we had to leverage the competitive benefits of an age diverse workforce, should management time be focused on developing generation-specific policies and procedures, or rather, should management time be focused on the differences in employees' needs in terms of where they are as regards age or particularly maturity and differences in terms of where they are in their lifecycles and differences in terms of where they are in terms of their career stage?
The concluding discussion focused on the fact that organizational loyalty depends on context, not workplace generational differences. Retaining a young person is as easy as retaining a high-performing older person if we do the right thing. That comes down to managers understanding what each person values, irrespective of what generation they come from, in order to fully engage them in delivering on key organizational objectives.
That's my suggested tactic for this Tuesday. The key to communicating across the various generations may be as simple as understanding what each person values. Seeking first to understand. What do you think? Are perceived workplace generational differences just excellent examples of how people use different behaviors to express the same core values?
Well, that's it for this time. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Until then, happy communicating.
Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.
Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.
Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.