By Terri Swanson, EMPO Corporation
Just as there are many different types of personalities in the workplace, there are also an increasing number of cultural and other differences that make communicating with employees challenging. The more we learn and understand the differences in people, the more effectively we can communicate.
Here are some generalities about people’s communication preferences and styles that may help in your quest to communicate it your staff. Generally, men prefer to hear just the facts when you are communicating with them. They want you to get to the point and they prefer decisions versus pondering. Women, on the other hand, prefer to know the circumstances behind a discussion or a decision, they care about other people’s feelings (and their own), and they want to think through any decisions before making them.
There are also differences in communication styles with employees of different ages. Traditionalists (those born between 1915-1945) are ultra conservative and conscientious. They have high work ethics and strong brand loyalty. Many of the executive leaders of some of the most influential companies in the USA fall in this category. These people respond to the notion that ‘we are in this together’. They value formality and top-down chain of command. They appreciate face-to-face meetings.
The Baby Boomer generation (!946-1964) is the largest population with over 75 million. These people want respect from later generations and value civic loyalty. They show great respect for authority. These people respond to open, direct communication, and value flexibility and being shown through demonstrations. These employees will ask a lot of questions to gain clarity.
Gen X employees ( born 1965- 1976) have grown up in the computer age and with a prosperous economy. They aren’t afraid to challenge authority and place a lot of value on work/life balance. These individuals desire instant communication, short meetings and thrive to get their work accomplished in the shortest amount of time. Gen Yers, (1977 – present) are college educated, competitive and self-absorbed. They want their opinions heard are comfortable with the newest technology. These employees also prefer instant feedback.
If this seems impossible to remember and even more challenging to implement, it can be; although it is well worth your while to try to make it work. The best thing to do is to get to know your employees individually, ask what type of communication they prefer, and then work hard to provide them with the information and feedback the way that works best for them. This will prove mutually beneficial in the end.