Week 3: GenerationYPC
I consider myself extremely fortunate to live in a city recognized as a top location for young professionals. Generation Y employees will quickly outnumber the Gen X and Baby Boomer staffers and if the flood of articles on my LinkedIn news feed are any indication, this generation gap is causing some workplace angst. I have worked in environments where Millennials were the majority, and I’ve also been greatly outnumbered. I believe as young professionals we have great opportunity to set a positive tone, and I believe a key to being successful in your career is being able to bridge those gaps and connect people. Based on my experiences and those shared with me by fellow young professionals, here are some key strategies to build a positive and productive work environment across generations.
Expand Your Communication
If I need to ask my coworker a question, in theory I could email them, text them, call them, even tweet at them. With so many options, its important to understand how your colleagues prefer to communicate, and what is going to be the most efficient way to get your question answered. I am admittedly an anomaly of our generation in that I much prefer a phone conversation instead of email. I realize this does not work for everyone, and thus I email some coworkers, set up face-to-face meetings with others, and texting happens to work with my boss. Most Gen Y employees gravitate towards technology when they need to communicate, but sometimes to really stand out with other generations, pick up the phone or set up a time to meet in person. You’ll be surprised how much more you’ll accomplish, and people will take notice
Listen More Than You Speak, Learn More Than You Teach
The best managers and best employees alike understand how to leverage a diverse group of strengths, talents and experiences. As Millennials, we grew up working in teams so we’re natural collaborators, we’ve grown up with computers, smart phones and the Internet woven into our everyday life, and we thrive in situations where we can think creatively and ‘out of the box’. We are assets in a changing workplace, and we know it (tongue in cheek). However, while you may be tempted to start off the meeting by sharing your brilliant idea that you know will change the world, the real opportunity for us is taking a step back and listening and learning from our Gen X and Boomer peers. Truly the best ideas and strategies come from those conversations where each team member is actively learning from each other and building upon each other’s thoughts and ideas. Listen first, think second, and speak last.
First One In, Last To Leave
We have a work-ethic image problem Gen Y, and we need to do something about it. Some of the best bonding moments come in those late hours, cranking away on a project with a coworker or when you take the time to offer and help your boss or another co-worker instead of checking out at 5. The best way to earn the respect of your Boomer and Gen X peers is to make the effort, invest the time, and do what needs to be done. Go beyond what you’re responsible for and ask how you can help.
Chris Coan is a marketer and project manager with Gannett Co. and Register Media. For more Midwestern Millennial insights, follow him @ChrisCoan or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.