Generational Differences In The Way We Communicate At Work

The marine industry is evolving. Baby boomers with shipbuilding skills are retiring, or will be soon, and it isn’t just Generation X that’s replacing them. Though the perception of millennials is that they are looking for alternative job experiences, they are also the largest cohort in today’s job market, which means they make up a cross section of many different kinds of jobs. And we also have to begin looking at the newest generation now entering the workforce. So, as a manager, how can you know the best ways to communication at work?

  • Cultivate empathy. Regardless of the generation in question, a little empathy goes a very long way. Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of another person. As much as we may want to stubbornly adhere to preconceived notions, it doesn’t serve to foster communications with those older or younger than ourselves. Take a moment to try to see things from the other person’s perspective.
  • Ask older employees to coach younger employees. The generational gap is sometimes summed up with the feeling of being obsolete. Older employees may feel that younger employees are just there to take their jobs, that they don’t have anything to contribute. But there is a lot of experience in seasoned employees. Have them train new team members to pass on that knowledge.
  • Collaboration versus competition. Baby Boomers and Generation X seemed to thrive on competition. This was reflected in the workplace and incentives to work harder. But Millennials and GenZ are changing that dynamic. They were raised in a more collaborative environment and are much more interested in working together to achieve a common goal. That’s something worth harnessing.
  • Enhance communication skills. Lastly, effective management almost always comes down to communication skills. You need to be able to communicate with all the generations in your shipyard in the ways that encourage healthy responses. Older generations like face-to-face interaction or are willing to talk on the phone. But younger generations are more likely to respond to digital communication methods.

Are you prepared for the multi-generational workplace? Contact Hutco to learn more.