Most Managers are Boomers and Generation X’ers—and most of them don’t understand millennials because they grew up in a world vastly different from them. Because the interests, worldviews and perspectives between generations vary significantly, finding common ground is the dang key to connecting a united, powerful workforce.
Forbes just released an article about how Boomers can network with Millennials and Gen X’ers. We’ve taken their top 5 questions on how to connect and provide our real deal insight into why these questions are effective in bridging the generational gap in the workplace.
How do you most like to spend your time?
Everyone wants a boss who cares. This question helps you immediately open up the possibility for connecting on mutual interest. It also takes the pressure off work and focuses on personal interests and people’s favorite topic: themselves. This question shifts the focus from you to them (in our book we call this WIFThem,), which demonstrates that you have really leaned in to respect them as a grown (&^%) adult and see things from their perspective.
What’s the most important lesson you learned at work?
Again, caring…but more. It helps you coach on how they view their work and what strikes them as important. This question also opens up the opportunity for sharing lessons you’ve learned. What do millennials want more than anything in the workplace? Learning and growing opportunities: we call it capability! Gallup will tell you it equals engagement more than any one thing!
What do you wish you knew at the start of your career?
As Julius Caesar said, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Millennials, like all of us, are never fully prepared when embarking on an endeavor. Clearly, it’s impossible to know everything when starting out. By opening up the way for millennials to share what they’ve learned, you tell them “I care and I respect you.” It also provides connection currency and then you can share what you’ve learned, which will help them in their careers. You better share funny stories and lessons—that type of vulnerability wins.
How do you think work could be restructured to make it more productive and enjoyable?
This question highlights that you are open and want their input because together you can create a great workplace. It makes you more approachable as a manger or as an experienced worker, a better coach and a leader. After all, the ability to seek feedback and integrate it into your business is what real leadership is about.
How do you think you can be most helpful to teammates?
Millennials wan to learn about themselves and how to be effective from day one. Identifying the strengths of each millennial worker, and allowing them to understand their strengths, will help you put them in the best possible position for themselves and your company. For example, a millennial working in the sales department is unhappy and feels she is of minimal value to her team. However, she is savvy and skilled in Adobe and Photoshop. She will be more of an asset to a company’s design or branding department than the sales department. This question helps you effectively place them in an optimal position for the company’s gain and their fit. It helps them provide real value, something they are very concerned about.
So get on it now: Go ask some friggin questions that show you care, respect them and are a coach and mentor those are the connection currency. That will pay off in attraction, retention and engagement.
Interested in learning more about bridging the gap between millennials and managers? Here’s your chance! Grab your copy of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace!