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Presented by Sherrell Wheeler New Mexico State University Alamogordo. Generational Communication Issues. Why Doesn’t My Boss Understand Me?. Do These Offend You?. You’re right, but I’m the boss! Just do your job! I remember when . . .

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Presented by sherrell wheeler new mexico state university alamogordo

Presented by Sherrell Wheeler

New Mexico State University Alamogordo

Generational Communication Issues

Why Doesn’t My Boss Understand Me?

Do these offend you
Do These Offend You?

  • You’re right, but I’m the boss!

  • Just do your job!

  • I remember when . . .

  • The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job!

  • No!

  • It’s five, I’m out of here!

Who in here
Who in Here?

  • Remembers life without a cell phone…

  • Remembers getting off the couch to change the channel on the TV…

  • Remembers black & white TV…

  • Has ever owned a “vinyl record”…

  • Has ever owned an “8 track tape”…

Who in here1
Who in Here?

  • Has never owned a record player.

  • Can’t believe baby diapers were once made of cloth.

  • Doesn’t care who shot JR.

  • Never thought of Jaws while you were swimming in the sea.

  • Think the Vietnam War is as ancient as World Wars I and II.

  • Has only known a world with AIDS.

  • Can understand the following: “c u b4 2nite”

Successful session
Successful Session:

  • Understand the four generations currently in the workforce

  • Understand generational differences in key workplace dimensions

  • Learn how to prepare your students to communicate with a representative of any generation at their workplace

The power of four
The Power of Four

  • First time to have four different generations together in the workforce

  • Generational differences can affect everything

The power of four1
The Power of Four

  • Each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits and motivational buttons.

  • Each generation struggles to understand the others.

Generational diversity
Generational Diversity

  • Each generation tends to be shaped or influenced by its environment and experiences

    • May have different meanings for the word “employment”

    • May have different communication styles

  • It is important to narrow any “generation gaps” in order to work well with others

Generation timeline
Generation Timeline





Generation X

Gen X


Generation Y

Gen Y


Echo Boomers



Baby Boomers

Personal and lifestyle characteristics traditionalist
Personal and Lifestyle Characteristics - Traditionalist

Core Values

Respect for authority







A dream

Communication Media

Rotary phones


Write a memo

Dealing with Money

Put it away

Pay cash

Personal and lifestyle characteristics baby boomers
Personal and Lifestyle Characteristics – Baby Boomers

Core Values






A birthright

Communication Media

Touch-tone phones

Call me anytime

Dealing with Money

Buy now, pay later

Personal and lifestyle characteristics generation x
Personal and Lifestyle Characteristics – Generation X

Core Values





Latch-key kids


A way to get there

Communication Media

Cell phones

Call me only at work

Dealing with Money



Save, save, save

Personal and lifestyle characteristics generation y
Personal and Lifestyle Characteristics – Generation Y

Core Values



Extreme fun



Merged families


An incredible expense

Communication Media


Picture phones


Dealing with Money

Earn to spend

Workplace characteristics traditionalist
Workplace Characteristics – Traditionalist

Work Ethic and Values

Hard work

Respect authority


Duty before fun

Adhere to rules

Work is . . .

An obligation

Dictatorial and rigid


Leadership Style

Interactive Style





Feedback and Rewards

No news is good news

Satisfaction in a job well done

Messages That Motivate

Your experience is respected

Work and Family Life

Ne’er the twain shall meet

Workplace characteristics baby boomers
Workplace Characteristics – Baby Boomers

Work Ethic and Values


Work efficiently

Personal fulfillment

Desire quality

Work is . . .

An exciting adventure

Consensus-building approaches

Collegial/People oriented

Leadership Style

Interactive Style

Team player

Loves to have meetings


In person

Feedback and Rewards

Don’t appreciate it


Title recognition

Messages That Motivate

You are valued and needed

Your contribution is unique and important

Work and Family Life

No balance

Work to live

Workplace characteristics generation x
Workplace Characteristics – Generation X

Work Ethic and Values

Flexibility - work whenever, just get it done


Not looking for longevity or lifetime position


Work is . . .

A difficult challenge

A contract

Everyone is the same

Challenge others

Ask why

Leadership Style

Interactive Style





Feedback and Rewards

Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?

Freedom is the best reward

Messages That Motivate

Do it your way

Forget the rules

Work and Family Life


Workplace characteristics generation y
Workplace Characteristics – Generation Y

Work Ethic and Values

Work is a way to fill time between weekends

Not likely to seek out additional responsibility


Goal oriented

Work is . . .

A means to an end




Team oriented

Leadership Style

Interactive Style




Voice mail

Feedback and Rewards

Whenever I want it, at the push of a button

Meaningful work

Messages That Motivate

You will work with other bright, creative people

Work and Family Life


Commonalities for all generations
Commonalities for ALL Generations

  • Everyone is comfort seeking

  • Most people resist change, but don’t like status quo either

  • Everyone wants information, to be kept “in the loop”

  • Everyone likes some level of control

Workplace differences message
Workplace Differences Message

We are good for each other,

Let’s challenge each other,

Let’s communicate with each other!

Communicating with traditionalist
Communicating with Traditionalist

  • Respect and acknowledge their expertise

  • Follow the chain of command

  • Speak positively of the organization

  • Show interest in the work being done

  • Appreciate their insights

  • Be patient of their approach to technology

  • Don’t refer to their age

Communicating with baby boomers
Communicating with Baby Boomers

  • Acknowledge their experience and dedication

  • Seek them out as mentors

  • Find a balance between face-to-face and technological communication

  • Use them as “sounding boards”

  • Focus on relationships as well as results

  • Show them you can carry your share of the load

Communicating with gen x
Communicating with Gen X

  • Acknowledge their talents and expertise

  • Be clear and specific, get to the point

  • Rely on technology for communicating

  • Place a high premium on efficiency

  • Understand their need for balance

  • Encourage a friendly and informal work enviroment

Communicating with gen y
Communicating with Gen Y

  • Acknowledge their talents and fresh perspectives

  • Be open to new and different ways to work

  • Encourage and embrace technology

  • Involve them in projects of significance

  • Show them respect as team members

  • Offer to be a mentor

  • Build a fun, challenging and fast-paced work environment

Potential clash points
Potential “Clash” Points

  • Agency loyalty - From organizational to individual

  • Chain of command - From rigid to freedom

  • Work ethic - From corporate to individual

  • Workplace diversity - Gen Y is colorblind

  • Feedback and mentoring - Differences in communication styles

Minimizing friction
Minimizing Friction

  • Know who you’re working with

  • Create a climate for and of RESPECT

  • Communicate openly and honestly

To narrow the gap
To Narrow the Gap

Use the A List

  • Acceptyour “mutual rightness”

  • Acknowledgeyour interdependency on each other generation

  • Appreciatewhat you have in common

  • Assumeresponsibility for making your relationships better

  • Adoptthe “Platinum Rule”

What is the platinum rule
What is the “Platinum Rule”?

  • The “Golden Rule” (in modern terms) –treat others the way ‘you’ want to be treated.

  • The “Platinum Rule” – treat others the way they want to be treated.

Why doesn t my boss understand me

Sherrell WheelerAssistant Professor of BusinessDirector of Online Quality AssuranceNew Mexico State University Alamogrodoswheeler@nmsu.edu575-439-3668