Addressing Multiple Generations in the Workplace: Part 2

In teamwork and in management, questions transcend all generations.

Questions redefine relationships between people – when I am “advising” or “managing,” I am the expert. But when I’m “asking” you for your ideas, I’m a peer.  Questions honor you as a person and communicate your value as an equal. Ask open-ended probing questions like, “Will you help me understand things from your point of view?” or, “Might there be other ways of looking at this?”

And because this asking approach changes the relationship, it also changes you. Think of an instance when you left a conversation thinking, “Well, that was one-sided! The whole thing was about him.”  We all hate it when others can’t stop talking about their own thoughts and ideas, but we’re blind to how often we do it ourselves.

Organizations would be wise to put more emphasis on training staff how to approach and execute meaningful conversations – and it all starts with questions. This is when the magic happens. Individuals, teams, and their organization begin to blossom and flourish around effective communication.

Train on generational similarities, not generational differences: Emotional intelligence and conversational capacity

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is an ability to recognize and understand our emotions so to manage our reactions. Emotions are not a choice and you cannot manage them. They are psychological reactions to events in life and can only affect you. On the contrary, you can (and should) manage your reactions to these feelings. This is where we can get into trouble because our reactions will be perceived as good or bad – and they affect everyone.

PREMIUM CONTENT: North America Staffing Company Survey 2017: Which types of training for internal staff have the highest return?

When employees are well versed in self-awareness and self-management, productive communication occurs. This then leads to heightened conversational capacity.

What is conversational capacity?

“Conversational capacity isn’t just another aspect of effective teamwork — it defines it. A team that cannot talk about its most pressing issues isn’t really a team at all. It’s just a group of people that can’t work together effectively when it counts.” – Craig Weber, Author of Conversational Capacity

Like EQ, conversational capacity is about approaching conversations, being genuinely open, really asking, and paying attention to the other person’s response. It’s about interrogating the issue and not the person. When people engage in this everybody gets to advance towards their better selves, as individuals and together as a team.

While the workplace may be in constant change, one thing will remain the same, our need for communication with others. Here at the JFC Staffing Companies, we treat dialogue as a discipline. It begins with the onboarding process when new hires go through three training sessions with me personally (CEO aka Chief Enthusiasm Officer). The idea is to set our people up for success when communicating with others. After all, communicating in open, balanced, meaningful ways creates winning mindsets, winning teams, and winning organizations. Who doesn’t want that?

My closing advice to the managers reading this: Exhausting precious time and energy on all the differences between generations is futile. Focus on what each era needs, which is meaningful communication with others. Invest in training your people to have meaningful conversations. Once mastered, everything else seems more manageable and conquerable within multigenerational teams.

Reach out to me if you’re interested in learning more about these topics. I offer insight/training, free of charge, to area businesses as my way of giving back to the community that I live and work in.

MORE: Addressing Multiple Generations in the Workplace: Part 1

Jim Carchidi

Jim Carchidi
Jim Carchidi, CSP, is the CEO of the JFC Staffing Companies. He can be reached at JimC (at) jfcstaffing (dot) com.

Jim Carchidi

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