In my work with leaders across industries, I have come to notice a pattern among the companies and organizations that are gaining Millennial clients and getting the most out of their Millennial employees.
They are doing 3 things: (1) they are able to empathize with and build an understanding of other generations, (2) they are keen observers of the changes that each generation brings, and (3) they adapt accordingly.
Empathize with Other Generations
When we tell people about the birth years for each generation they often find themselves thinking, “Well, I’m part of this generation by birth year but I have a lot in common with the generations before and after me. Do I really belong in this generation?” In our research, we’ve found that sharing characteristics with multiple generations is common, particularly for those who were born five years before or after the generational cutoffs. It is so common that we at The Center for Generational Kinetics developed an assessment tool to allow people to find out how much of each generation they identify with and their generational strengths.
Those that find themselves identifying with multiple generations have an advantage because they can empathize with the other generations and are able to see things from multiple perspectives. Even if you feel your behavior and viewpoints are consistent with your birth year’s generation, you can still build an understanding of the other generations by learning about the forces that shape them.
Empathy allows you to better understand the problems that your customers or clients are experiencing and respond with better solutions to resolve those problems and win their business. Empathy enables you to understand how some of your employees might prefer different communication methods or a different schedule than others. Empathy gives you an advantage because it puts you in a better position to adapt.
Recognize and Adapt to a Changing Environment
Leaders who are paying attention to the trends in their industry and are willing to adapt, rather than resist change, are going to beat out the competition when it comes to gaining customers and recruiting top talent. It’s easy to dismiss a trend when it represents a change that we don’t like. If the change is a departure from “the way we’ve always done things” it might be tempting to ignore or downplay the significance of the trend.
Communication trends are often the hardest to embrace. Adjusting the methods in which we communicate may seem in opposition to our norms for social etiquette or feel outside of our comfort zone. Perhaps you find it bothersome that more communication with customers and employees is being done via text. Maybe using social media seems awkward or daunting to you. It’s fine to feel this way and to have your own communication preferences but resisting these changes in communication when the customer prefers these new modes could result in losing potential business.
Each generation of employees and consumers brings different strengths and challenges to the workplace. Click here to learn more about unlocking millennial talent.
Alicia Rainwater is a Certified Keynote Speaker at The Center for Generational Kinetics
What actions have you taken to engage Millennials in the workplace? Join the conversation on Twitter at @JasonDorsey or @WhatTheGen and don’t forget to add your #generation!