In T+D Magazine (March 2012) from ASTD there is a great article from Steve Gavatorta concerning the arrival of Generation Y into management positions and the reaction of their baby-boomer direct reports. Any “young-gun” coming into a management position is bound to cause some upset for the more senior staff, but Steve argues that it is even worse this time, given the GenY tendancy to overlook some specific communication preferences of other generations (namely: face-to-face!). I contacted Steve with more questions, which he was kind enough to answer here…
Intergenerational relationships have always existing in the workplace, just like intercultural relationships. Why is the emergence of GenY on the workplace causing so much “fuss”? How is the difference so different to previous generation-gaps?
I think the main reason is Gen Y’s strength and experience using technology – be it using advanced technological devices and/or social media venues to interact and communicate. Gen Y people grew up using these tools/methods to communicate so it is what “they know” and its comfortable for them. Meanwhile, other generations had to learn a bit later in life, so its harder for them to grasp and it’s not their main means of connecting and communicating…also some from other generations have also refused to advance with the technology/new communication methods – all of these reasons are creating a natural divide.
If we believe the communication experts, using non face-to-face methods for communications could lead to a lot of misunderstanding (GenY use these tools a lot). Add to this the initial intergenerational “culture” differences that cloud understanding and its even worse…. What do you think?
I agree wholeheartedly – this method of communication is creating the big divide…two things happen when people solely use non face-to-face methods to communicate: Firstly, messages can get misconstrued and misunderstood. Secondly, there is a missing human factor that gets lost as well (facial gestures, eye contact, tone, body language) which diminishes “meaning” in communication. All these things lead to misunderstandings and “watered down” messages and leads to ineffective communication.