I have a confession to make: I’m a Baby Boomer. And, although I’ve tried to recover, no 12-step program can change the fact that I’ve got all the characteristics of people in my generation (born between 1948 to 1964).
One attribute is especially problematic when it comes to employee communication: Baby Boomers think that every communication should be complete, packaged, approved and perfect. Why? When Baby Boomers first entered the workforce, senior management had complete control over communication. (This was way before such disruptive forces as the Internet or texting or mobile phones or even personal computers.) So we Boomers grew up with the expectation that control was not only possible—it was desirable.
Fast forward to today, and, even though most Baby Boomers have tried to keep up with the times (Look at us on our smart phones! Aren’t we adorable?), we still hold fast to the old belief that communication is a product, not a process. As a result, we get itchy when someone suggests that employees contribute content or post personal issues on an internal social network or say anything that comes into their heads.
This would not be such a problem if Baby Boomers’ opinions didn’t matter. But a significant percentage of senior managers still hail from this generation (until they/we finally retire).
What can you do about us Boomers? Use research to make your case. Study the demographics of your organization and share data to show that employees are not just like Boomers—they have different expectations and preferences. And leverage surveys, focus groups, web trends and other research to demonstrate employees’ communication habits and needs.
Baby Boomers need YOU to save us from our outdated views. Counsel a Boomer today!