Career Corner / Let’s Talk About Multi-Generation Communication

By The Shah Center for Engineering Career Development

Who are your coworkers?

Collaborating with team members from various generations can create challenges. For example: Did you ever keep emailing someone without a response, and you finally call or go to their office and get an immediate answer?

The Shah Center for Engineering Career Development has outlined the most effective ways to communicate across generations to maximize the outcomes of our efforts. It may also assist in helping us to properly articulate our desire to rise to the next level in our careers.

We currently have five generations in the workplace:

Silent Generation
“Tell Me” (face-to-face)

Baby Boomers
“Write Me”

Generation X
“Call Me”

Generation Y
“Email Me”

Generation Z
“Text Me”

However, many of us faced significant workplace changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations had to implement quick technological solutions in order to maintain operations and communication. Some of these solutions involved remote work, ultimately requiring all generations to embrace more virtual communication, including email and virtual meetings.

Throughout the pandemic, it seemed that all generations were able to temporarily adapt to these changes; however, this doesn’t mean that they will continuously default to these tools.

Communication styles are formed by life events

Understanding why each generation chose their different communication method helps us remember and utilize them in the workplace. Each is a result of the major events in their lifetimes that had direct influence on their need for and type of interaction:

Silent Generation
Great Depression, WWII, Cold War, Radio

Baby Boomers
Vietnam War, Moon Landing, Civil Rights, Hippies, Television

Generation X
“Dot Coms,” Cable TV, Early Mobile Technology, Computers

Generation Y
Reality TV, CDs/DVDs, Y2K, Columbine Shootings, Internet Optimization, iPhone

Generation Z
Great Recession, War on Terror, Amazon, Snapchat, TikTok, Cloud Computing

The more that we understand and embrace this, the more success we will have in our job and with our colleagues.

With Generation Z on the rise, every generation needs to be prepared for some innovative communication strategies.  Let’s get ready!

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