Intergenerational Communications and the Workplace

Intergenerational Communications and the Workplace

in the workplace

Intergenerational Communications and the Workplace

 

What’s getting lost in translation within your organization or between your organization and others? Effective communication is the backbone of a high-performance organization; statistics reported by Pumble indicate that more than three-quarters of employees and executives attribute workplace failures to a lack of effective communications. Similarly, when teams communicate effectively, productivity could increase by as much as 25%. Onsite, hybrid and remote working options place new demands on everyday communications. Add to that, five distinct generations are now present and active in the workforce and need to collaborate.

Take a close look at your own organization. Are your habits of communication building bridges for collaboration and trust or creating barriers that fragment your company culture and undermine mutual respect?

A message is more than words.

Communication begins with a message, with raw information that needs to be conveyed clearly and without ambiguity to one or more individuals so that action can be taken. A sender and a receiver of the message must participate, each with their own context or frame of reference. Instructions on the basics of communications are plentiful. Deloitte, for example, offers insights for communications that include defining the audience, preparing the critical message and its objectives, and determining the most effective form or “package” for the message.

Words must be chosen with care, so the message is suited to its purpose and matches the needed level of formality. Is the communication strictly internal or is it directed to those outside the organization? If the message goes to customers, clients, or others outside the organization, does it accurately reflect the style and values of your organization as you wish to be represented?

Context and mode make a difference.

The mode of communication—how the message is conveyed and its effect on the receiver—taps into the human side of emotions and feelings. This is where trust is built or lost, where feelings can be hurt, or understanding can be strengthened. The mode of delivery affects the fundamental sense of whether or not someone feels heard and respected and therefore a valid member of the team. This is the realm of different communication styles, where misunderstanding can so easily surface.

Sent but not received.

Perhaps some of these situations will sound familiar. One person complains that their phone messages to another team member are never returned—or the answers they get are in the form of brief texts instead. Another person can’t understand why they receive so many emails, or bulky email threads, when an instant message or text could have been used instead. Technology has blessed us, or some might say, cursed us, with an abundance of methods for communicating in the workplace— in addition to the most basic method of face-to-face conversations. A recent PwC survey points out some of the key factors that allow employees to feel confident in the workplace, including the sense of being heard and understood. Flexibility is now the norm. For some, that represents freedom, for others, stress and insecurity at the loss of a standardized, predictable structure.

Shared history influences interpretation.

Some of the differences in preferred communication methods—face-to-face, phone, email, text, instant message systems—break down along generational lines. While we don’t want to resort to stereotypes, each of the five generations present in the current workforce has been shaped by world events outside their control and technologies that arose in their lifetimes. Just as the Great Depression, World War II, and the advent of television shaped the Traditionalist generation, the lives of Millennials have been influenced by 9/11 and the internet. The lives of Generation Z digital natives, now recently entering the workforce, have been shaped by the Great Recession and lifelong easy access to technology.

Advancements in technology redefine speed and what is considered effective. Like the fax machine that once was the epitome of rapid communication, panelists on this discussion from NYU point out that Gen Z tends to look at email the way boomers view snail mail.

Unintentionally, each generation brings their communications preferences and prejudices into the workplace. Every generation values effectiveness and strives for efficiency, but they select different means to achieve those results and often don’t recognize the reasons why others use alternative modes of communication.

Speaking the right language to be heard.

As if the variety of communication options isn’t enough to make work life complicated, each person has their own preferred learning style. Add this variable, and the mix grows even more complex. Multiple variations exist, but the typical breakdown includes Visual, Aural/Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic learners. That means, for example, that some people—regardless of their generation— prefer to take in information verbally (think phone, or in-person meetings) and others may strongly prefer graphical or written materials.

And don’t forget the business and professional objectives of communication. These objectives range from maximum speed and efficiency to the need for accurate, permanent records. Within a team, instant message conversations with responses consisting of emojis may be the most expedient way to reach a quick decision; in dealing with formal contracts, or interacting with clients of different generations, communications may require more formality along with speed.

Evaluating methods and moving toward more effective communication.

Given the dynamics that drive everyday communications, how does your organization stack up? Are you building a cohesive culture with effective communications that get the message across while supporting trust and respect between people?

Awareness of the various factors is the first step. Rumbling frustrations, attitude and morale problems often point to communications problems. Resolution begins with identifying communication style preferences: simply ask people how they prefer to interact.

Evaluate the methods and forms of communication that are needed and then determine the baseline standards that are appropriate. Some individuals may need support in skills that allow them to communicate more effectively in person or in a written format while others may need additional training or support with learning to make full and fluid use of new technology. Opening the discussion in itself acknowledges the feelings and perceptions of people and sets the stage for developing an effective blended solution.

As you navigate these challenges, don’t hesitate to call on a business consultant for help. RoundTable Consulting can help you pinpoint the areas that need to be addressed and work with you to develop a plan that will allow your team to bridge the gap and move forward with respect, understanding, and effectiveness.



Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational,  insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

 


Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Seven Steps Toward Better Leadership in 2022

Seven Steps Toward Better Leadership in 2022

in the workplace

Seven Steps Toward Better
Leadership in 2022.

 

When that calendar page flips to a bright, shiny new year it’s easy to think of resolutions—wishes that we’d like to have fulfilled. Why not go deeper and make this the year for lasting transformations in the skills you depend on to lead your team or organization? What follows are seven steps to improve your leadership in the coming year.

Consider your mindset.

Start with an honest assessment of your personal strengths and those of your organization. What patterns of thinking need to be replaced? Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie, in their article Lead at Your Best, review methods you can use to learn more about your mindset as a leader and find the specific mindsets that limit your leadership. New behaviors won’t take root and last if we don’t change the old underlying mindsets that hold us back.

Live out your organizational values every day.

Talking about values is easy, living them out day by day takes effort. The result is an organizational culture with integrity. The workscape is changing and being reinvented to reflect the organizational culture; people craving deeper connections and driving change. Take time to listen, inspire, and connect; as noted in the SHRM blog, make the effort to invest in people—from skills development to health and wellness.

Focus on strengths.

Change the area where you concentrate your efforts; stop focusing on your weakness and concentrate instead on your unique and specific strengths. That’s the advice from design engineer and Olympic speed skater John Coyle. In his recent article, Design for Your Strengths, Coyle talks about the significance of making this shift. It starts with a clear-eyed, detailed look at yourself. Equipped with this knowledge, the key step in moving forward is to identify the right problem to solve, then push forward in a way that works with the strengths you identified. It’s not enough to target problems to solve—they must be the right ones; the ones that unlock progress in a way that allows you to move ahead from a position of strength.

Build resilience.

A firm commit to learning and growth is the first step on the path to cultivating resilience in the face of events that are outside our control. Brent Gleeson, in Embracing the Suck, digs into the methods of developing resilience and builds on Carol S. Dweck’s research into fixed and growth mindsets. Build learning into your daily life, feeding your curiosity by stretching for new experiences and looking outside yourself; these actions help make the shift into a growth mindset that can form the foundation for resilience. A mindset of growth enables the inevitable setbacks in life to be transformed into opportunities for inspiration; the potential for a fresh start rather than a reason to quit.

Value human qualities.

The distribution of work between humans and machines is affecting jobs and desirable skills across virtually all industries. As a result, in-demand skills are those that are distinctly human-centered and not replaceable by artificial intelligence. Focus on the development of analytical thinking and complex problem solving; bolster creativity, innovation and emotional intelligence in yourself and across your organization.

Agility is a necessity.

We all know that one constant in life is change. Keeping up with changes and trends in the world and in the workplace requires ongoing effort. The World Economic Forum Report on Jobs 2020 identifies several trends that are shaping the world of work. Agility, the ability to respond to changes with flexibility and grace, is not just a temporary buzzword, but an expected practice. The definition of “workplace” has expanded. We have to be prepared for flexibility in working arrangements and hybrids of remote and in-person work; training and skills development are in high demand everywhere to meet the needs of changing job roles resulting from increases in technology and automation.

Reinforce new behaviors with discipline.

Make a commitment to disciplined practice to support ongoing learning. A mindset focused on growth involves a deep commitment to intentional learning; Lisa Christensen, Jake Gittleson, and Matt Smith illustrate the basic steps to be mastered. Make learning stick by setting small, clear goals that are securely anchored and explicit regarding what you intend to accomplish. Don’t go it alone—search out honest and meaningful feedback, then act on it. Dedicate the time necessary to deliberately practice—with the right amount of challenge to build your expertise; and finally, reflect on the entire exercise. Living, and leading, with intentionality is the goal, offering rewards that stretch far beyond a single calendar year.

Individually, we can make progress toward transformations in ourselves and our organizations; however, sometimes the process benefits from the support and guidance of a professional outside observer or business consultant. Turn to RoundTable Consulting for insights, facilitation and coaching as you deepen your leadership skills and recharge your organization.



Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational,  insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

 


Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Seven Steps Toward Better Leadership in 2022

Signs that you need to find a business consultant: HERE’S HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT FIT.

in the workplace

Signs that you need to find a business consultant: HERE’S HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT FIT.

 

You had a dream and an inspired team, on fire to succeed. That was yesterday. Today it’s a different story. What’s broken and how can it be fixed? Leadership at any level from a small team within a department, a single location of a franchise, or a medium to large corporation, may need help from a business consultant to answer that question.

Maybe each member of your team does a solid job individually, but by watching their interpersonal communication and work styles it’s clear that they could work together better: you observe territorial behaviors and incompatible communication styles. One person likes to keep all the details of current work in his head—never on paper—so if he’s not there to answer, no one else can fill in. Another team member is so painfully shy that interactions are determined by how he can utter the fewest words. A manager is unaware of how her actions reinforce a system of favorites by the way she doles out information. Your customers aren’t getting the best experience possible; trust between team members is shaky and morale is suffering.

That scenario could take place across all industries and types of organizations—from a car care and detailing shop to a non-profit organization or large corporation to a specialty service provider like a wealth advisory firm, law firm, or medical practice. Common principles of human interaction drive the success of each one; when those systems of communications, responsibility and leadership break down, problems arise, and progress slows.

A breakdown in communications is not the only form communication problems can take. The style of communications used by an individual or group as well can lead to difficulties that interfere with success. Business consulting can address a whole spectrum of issues for teams at every scale.

Maybe the challenge is less glaring; you have a sense that operations could flow more smoothly. Growth is stagnant, employees seem to be frustrated, as the list of unfinished projects grows while time runs out on reaching goals that have been set. The tension is palpable, and productivity isn’t where it should be.

You may be thinking, “I know there’s a problem, but how do I figure out the issue that’s causing the problem? And once I do, how do I develop and implement an effective solution?” Unhappy, unsatisfied employees and high turnover hurt business. Productivity and efficiency improve, and sales increase, when employees are happy and satisfied with their work and setting.

When you see signs of illness, you seek treatment. It’s no different when considering the health of your organization. Experienced leaders may be well-versed in methods and strategies designed to improve performance and revive strained relationships, but even with those tools at hand, sometimes you’re just too close to the problem to have the right perspective. The practitioner you seek is someone who can bring clarity, fresh perspective, and problem-solving skills to mend what’s broken and restore high performance.

Now you know you need to call in a consultant, but are you ready?

Are you ready for what’s ahead?

Before treatment can start, you have to check your attitude. Is leadership on board with making changes—and ready to accept sometimes painful truth—or is another agenda lurking in the background? Organizational change requires intestinal fortitude, so be prepared. When leadership is willing to look at the overall health of the organization, treatment can begin.

You have an active role in the transformation process.

Transformation is the intended outcome of consulting–an active process in which you participate, not something that is done for you. It begins with desire and receptivity to face the challenges ahead. Work is necessary for growth; it likely involves some pain, as well as the need to deal with tough questions and follow through.

Diagnosis is the first step.

Where are the gaps? What’s working and what is not working and what are the opportunities for improvement? The consultant to work with will ask tough questions and demand honest answers.

Careful observations are necessary for a consultant to get to know you, your business and your industry. Only with a deep understanding of your operation and culture can a consultant shape a customized plan. That’s why if a consultant offers you a standardized solution instead of one tailored to your needs and business sector, you should run the other way.

Listening to your answers.

A skilled consultant does more than ask good questions; they listen to the answers. At RoundTable Consulting we believe this involves pushing just a little harder to uncover the truth and your deeper motivations. As a consultant, we invest the time to understand both your culture and your industry. We allow space to brainstorm. Then we connect the dots to form a plan that can be implemented with accountability. The goals developed are yours alone, uniquely customized to your team and the dynamics of your organization.

Rewards

Commitment, effort, and determination are rewarded. Healthy communications heal and refresh working relationships. Clear goals and expectations lead to identifiable results in the areas that matter most to your organization: increased productivity, decreased employee turnover, reduced customer attrition, improved profitability, best use of human resources, and competitive advantage in attracting the best talent.

You’re a specialist at what you do—fixing cars, restoring physical or financial health, or running an industrial business and it’s important to play to your strengths. It takes wisdom to know when to turn to an outside expert for perspective and the skills and accountability to help you make transformative change in your operation.

When you’re ready to find a solution for your organization’s difficulties, we’re ready to help. Let’s start the conversation that can lead to a fresh start.



Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational,  insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

 


Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Is Your Network Built to Last?

Is Your Network Built to Last?

in the workplace

Is Your Network Built to Last?

How healthy is your professional network? Studies over the years have shown the significance of networking and how it can satisfy a basic human need to connect on several levels. It establishes a foundation of rapport that can lead to business-related interactions.

Covid, with its enforced separation, has given many people a hunger for true face-to-face connection. Being forced to do without this personal element for so long we discovered how much we value the interaction with others, including those whose lives touch ours only tangentially. We now recognize the richness of these simple overlooked and undervalued connections in both our personal and professional lives.

The pandemic has left its mark on our interpersonal networks as well as our lives. Recent research on networking by Balazs Kovacs, Nicholas Caplan, Samuel Grob, and Marissa King highlights the impact of the pandemic on relationships, drawing attention to the shrinkage of social networks. This area may have been affected by covid, but it doesn’t need to be permanently damaged.

Discussing the results of their work in the Harvard Business Review Article, King and Kovacs point out that their research shows that during the pandemic our networks have shrunk by more than 15%. At the same time, with the improvement of virtual connection options, we’ve also strengthened and deepened some existing connections, especially with those closest to us—since even a virtual connection is better than the alternative of complete isolation. Nonetheless, the total number of contacts dropped. Strikingly, the drop was greater for men’s relationships than for women’s. They attribute this difference to the difference in networking styles adopted by men and women in general, as women tend to form networks built more on personal relationships.

Networking can be viewed as transactional—how many business cards can you collect at a mixer, trade show, or specialized event—based solely on the number of names in your Contacts or LinkedIn connections, or it can be focused on the development of relationships and deeper personal connections.

Just as a strong network of friends helps maintain physical and mental health, a strong network of business relationships—as an individual or as a small business owner—fulfill critical needs at various stages of a person’s career or in the life of a business.

Networks allow us to

  • Learn the ropes of an industry or new job; get practical advice and learn from practitioners.
  • Find a mentor or mentor others by reaching out to share knowledge with younger professionals.
  • Develop in our career path. Many career opportunities come about through conversations and connections, and we can gather insights into other fields prior to changing jobs.
  • Refine our skills with fresh perspectives from others in the same role or industry.

It’s one thing to be aware of all the benefits of networking, and another to take that first step. Simple things can hold us back: fear of meeting new people, that first impression and the pressure to perform; feeling “uneasy” because we think networking means using people; or uncertainty about where to begin—how to start the conversation and keep it going.

Most of these concerns dissipate with a change in approach, moving from the sense of each connection being a transaction to making the choice to build relationships that could one day become friendships. Instead of a race to collect names, cultivate shared experiences and opportunities to collaborate, invest in others, enrich their lives through your contribution to relationship building.

True relationships take time to grow. Follow up; make the effort to give value; and remember that multiple small points of contact give the relationship space to deepen. In her article in Forbes Article, Shelley Zalis offers tips for relationship building and drives home the point that it’s not a numbers game—the quality of the relationships in your business and professional network make a big difference.

Networking leads to more opportunities—especially through those outside your first-degree connections—and like so many other things in life, it’s a skill that you too can learn. Rise above the transactional—find the higher purpose that your networking will serve; keep that in mind as you extend your hand in greeting to others. Focus on what you can give and on what you can learn; have a genuine interest in others and learn from them. Learn to Love Networking Article, an article by Francesca Gino, Maryam Kouchaki, and Tiziana Casciaro, offers suggestions and structures that can help change your thinking about networking.

Where do you go to find people to network with? Social platforms like LinkedIn are filled with opportunities to develop connections. Professional organizations, chambers of commerce, and dedicated networking groups bring together multifaceted networking opportunities. FemCity is one such organization created for all women, which hosts local live events and online networking opportunities, in addition to online and in-person educational offerings. Coaching, mentorship, a library of resources, and a system for referrals give members more opportunity for personal and professional growth. I have seen women experience the benefits that FemCity brings to participants first hand because I lead our local FemCity South Bend group. Whichever opportunity you take advantage of, make it real. Connecting in real life, whether a phone call, in person or video chat, allows professionals to further develop the relationship that the initial networking originated.

Ready to learn more, so you can take the next step? Give me a call or send me a note. Find out how you can start building relationships that can last for years, bearing fruit in your personal and professional life.

 




Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

Transition to Sustainable Progress

Transition to Sustainable Progress

in the workplace

Transition to Sustainable Progress

Changes. . .transitions. . .once again. As we see indications that meetings can once again safely be face-to-face and at last begin to view the pandemic year from the other side, we can pause and consider the future that we want to see.

What will be next? How will work life take shape? What new methods will we retain, and which abandon in exchange for in-person work? Will life and work life go back to the way it was before covid—and is that what we want for our organizations or for our own lives?

Managing transitions is effectively managing change. The past year of challenges throughout the pandemic has marked us all as we’ve juggled a new way of life facing uncertainty and a lack of control. Both are anxiety-producing conditions, for organizations and on a personal level; we face these issues once again as we begin to move beyond the pandemic. In her TEDx Talk, Brenda Reynolds digs into the topic of transitions, the time when we move from what was to what will be. She offers her perspective on successfully navigating uncertainty and what she calls transformation fog.

Leaders can help their teams navigate these times of transition and change. Victoria M Grady writes in the Harvard Business Review about conceptual tools that leaders can use, one in particular is the power of offering a clear focus on and connection with the organization’s purpose. She also discusses the empowering benefit of offering choices to employees; these could include decisions concerning where and how they choose to work, or in relationship to steps toward future goals and activities in the organization. With the opportunity to control some conditions and choices, workers can be more comfortable handling the transitions they face.

Where do you want your organization to go? You will have to decide on the goals—what do you want to achieve or what changes do you want to see? Has anything shifted in your company’s fundamental mission?

These questions must be answered on a personal level as well: are you on the right path or have you decided to move in a different direction? Too many choices have the potential to overwhelm or add to the anxiety that comes from uncertainty. Don’t let the choices involved in the decision-making process make you freeze. From how we want our morning coffee (milk, steamed milk, foam, no foam, not to mention flavors) to where we get our news, our days are filled with decisions large and small. These everyday decisions add to our decision fatigue, making it harder than ever to answer the tough questions about work and life. Writer Patrick McGinnis, in his TED Talk, reviews ways to make decisions faster.

With a personal or organizational goal pinpointed, we can break it down and get moving simply by identifying the very first and simplest step. Author and leadership strategist Greg McKeown uses the term the “next most viable option” to describe this first movement forward. The point is not to look down the road five or ten steps, but instead look at the smallest action that can be taken. Look up the phone number for person you need to call; begin drafting that email; or start the face-to-face conversation that has been on your mind.

Ready, set, go. Now take that action that you’ve identified. Evaluate the results of the step just completed, make refinements and adjustments as needed, and go through the steps again.

Transitions, or any change, isn’t easy. When we press forward relentlessly we risk burning out before completing the transformation. Sustainability is key, as Greg McKeown mentions in his recent book, Effortless. And pacing yourself is the secret to making that progress sustainable. An outside perspective can also help in establishing a blueprint for the change your organization needs or for assessing your own personal leadership development needs. RoundTable Consulting can provide that clear view; talk to us today about an introductory consultation.




Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.