Multiple Generations = Multiple Communication Tools

Communication is one of the most critical elements to an organization, but gone are the days of single or straightforward tools of communication.

Organizations that have not defined a plan and implemented the right systems are seeking solutions to keep their teams engaged and less frustrated.

Millennials are now the largest of the five generations in the workforce, which is forcing companies to communicate differently. Organizations will struggle if they can’t cater to all generations in the workforce.

Multiple Generations = Multiple Communication Tools

There are great communication tools in the marketplace, but there is not a one size fits all product that makes for simple communication across an organization.

What you find as you look across the multiple generations in your workforce is that each has their preferred communication style and tools. Organizations that have built communication strategies around various systems have benefited from employees being more engaged and productive.

Early in my career as a young executive, I met this challenge head-on. My organization was made up of five generations and operationally silo’d. I thought that implementing a new collaboration system would be the answer, but I hit a significant adoption roadblock when it was deployed.

What I found was that the Traditionalists (born before 1942) loved face to face meetings and wanted people in the office or to travel to clients and colleagues for meetings.

The Boomers (born 1943 – 1962) loved face to face as well but were first to experience a cell phone in the workplace – so using their phone was there preferred choice.

Gen X’ers (born 1963-1980) lived in their email as their primary tool. The smallest and youngest group was Generation Z (born 1996 – 2005) who communicated almost exclusively within various apps.

Then there was me, the Millennial (born 1981 – 1995), who grew up with Skype, IM, Facetime, and free text messaging.

My goal was to reduce internal emails and phone calls and promote live chat and video collaboration tools. This would save time and money by reducing travel and in-person meetings, but it meant pulling the oldest and youngest groups towards the Millennial platforms.

Face to Face Meetings Aren’t Dead – Just Different

A younger and more virtual workforce threatens older generations who fear that the impromptu meeting in the hallway will go away. What we need to help these older workers understand is that the “water cooler” chat now happens inside an app.

Slack, a popular communications platform, recently became one of the fastest start-ups to reach a billion dollars. Its ability to document these impromptu conversations and create project-based threads has helped bridge the gap between chat as a social exercise and a business tool.

The impact of real face to face meetings will never be replaced, but it’s essential to adapt to virtual communication solutions to keep the engagement and productivity of your teams at high levels.