The WORST chaos comes from cross generational MIS- communication!

word-balloon.JPGCalled the “Digital divide” when referring to countries, it can be even worse in projects. Today let’s explore how to build some bridges across troubled waters and the best ways to improve not increase communication. Tomorrow, we will talk more about individual communication issues as we age in our roles.

You cannot really achieve desired results without questioning , testing, and improving the current rules of  Communication . Do you know what they are?

OWLS (over 40) use their stories, experience and history as the backdrop to the real annoyance of younger folk on projects.  The youngest seek the possibilities of “spontaneous renewal and lawless choices” hidden in their naïve view of “just get it DONE!”. Boomers want justice from old wounds and want endless  dialogues of  learned  sessions, or  at the other extreme, the arrogance, of “We don’t need no stinking badges: ” (when improvements in demeanor are suggested by the XYs or the after 1965 bunch.)  The Gen Ys are motivated to “strut their stuff” give the Customer what they want (including the source code?).

Let’s review Herman’s team: Imagine them in a project meeting:

Otis the owl is very conservative about changes and is still untrusting of what technology tells him.  Betty Boomer actually believes working harder gets things done, has no time to communicate even though she should.  George the Gen X gets mad all the time, is skeptical, and determined to be autonomous as all costs.  He works during the meetings to show the others he hates idle talk.  Tex the new Y guy has all kinds of ideas, wants to show stuff, and could be CEO if they would only let him for a couple of days.  His message is “connect me, and I will get it done for you!”  (Note we all start as Y’s, or Why’s, or Wise)

Herman says,  Really, there is TOO MUCH communication out there to get anything done anymore, and most of it is fuzzy. We need to work on the communication we have.”

Herman’s visit to the Corporate Knowledge Wizard (CKW)  suggests  he do some things which will encourage cross generational  communication:

The proposed  Strategy:

1. Ensure a common language–agree on what good communication looks like and sounds like without generational color.  Agree on proper tone! Control the text messaging trend  that isolates those who don’t get it.

2. Create ground rules of “clear communication” with the team and see what is working and why? (Use appreciative strategies; more on that tomorrow)

Practice the ONE message needed rule: Cover all the Bases (W5H): Online comments are limited to bullets and only informational elements:  What, why, when, where, who, agreement on how. If you can’t day it in ONE message, walk it or talk it.

4.  Avoid disagreements and  discussion online, as yes, they are documentation, but they are also permanent documentation.  How many companies have had their legal troubles and fines from .”too candid” or damning emails, with editorial  or inappropriate material in them.

5. Decide what REALLY needs to communicated In project planning and project review sessions; decide ahead of time what will be communicated and the best way.

6. Include visuals in emails to enable others to see what you are talking about.
Include a picture and signature to make your email more civil in the eyes of Boomers other OWLS.

Herman called for an offsite and collected some data. Tomorrow, we’ll go also.

Michele Jackman


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