Hey Gen Y’er, want a promotion? Communicate like an old guy

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Want to make an impression on a Baby Boomer? Try calling instead of texting

Image credit: flickr/starmanseries

Before I offend anyone by the title of this column, by old guy, I mean people like me, Baby Boomers in senior management positions. Certainly, this includes people of both genders, but I’m male so thus the column is named.

In recent months, I have been asked by many Baby Boomers how to properly communicate, motivate, lead, and retain Generation Y age employees. The reason for these questions is that there are huge differences between Baby Boomers and Gen Y’ers in regard to attitudes on work/life balance, comfort with technology, personal communication styles, motivations, current stage of life and a number of other factors.

By its nature, everything I’m going to say from here down is using stereotypes, which I dislike. Certainly there are people of all ages that don’t fall into the categories or traits listed here, but there are many people like me (remember, I’m using myself as the old guy stereotype) that think in this way. That said, if your boss is one of them, then this information may be valuable to your career.

There has been a large amount written on how Baby Boomers should manage Gen Y’ers, but much less has been written on how Gen Y’ers can get the attention, respect, and confidence of older employees in the leadership positions with the power to advance a Gen Y’ers’ career.

All that said, there are a number of things Gen Y’ers and Gen X’ers can do to make Baby Boomers take notice and help them get that wanted promotion.

Use the phone: By use the phone I mean call them, don’t text them. My age group grew up professionally using the phone and then, later in our professional life, email. It’s been my experience that Gen Y’ers aren’t generally inclined to call people on the phone. That said, you will stand out and be remembered.

Be polite: My generation grew up being told to say “please” and “thank you”. As a result, we have been engineered to appreciate it when people say “please” and “thank you” to us. There are, of course, a high percentage of Gen Y’ers and Gen X’ers that use good manners, but it is by no means as prevalent as it is with my generation.

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