In Communication, Employee Development, Leadership, Purpose, Trust, Wednesday Wisdom

Focused dialogue in a trust-filled relationship exponentially increases the odds of a successful outcome.

Did you know up to five different generations make up some current workforces? Helping a colleague prep for a panel discussion on generational differences provoked a great conversation on the impacts of that range in ages on not just workplace dynamics, but also other aspects of business (like sales and marketing) and different strategies for communicating with and engaging employees.

And because it’s back-to-school time, we also talked about how different it is for kids nowadays. The gist of the conversation was that as generation after generation headed back to school, their options continued to expand. What started as an option of go to school, or not became go to school and then choose an activity to participate in, or not. The options continued to progress. Now, the activities that kids have to choose from in sports, theater, academics, music, etc., and the level at which they can engage in those activities, seem endless.

You want to play soccer? You have school soccer and non-school soccer. For non-school soccer, you have recreational soccer and club soccer. And if you pick club soccer, you have a several clubs to consider. It can be overwhelming.

A friend recently shared an example of her son’s experience with different soccer teams and different soccer organizations in an attempt to find the right fit. Nothing was bad, per se, but just not great. This went on for several seasons. Finally, before the most recent try-outs, she had an intentional conversation with her son to discover what was most important to him in his soccer experience. Turns out, her son wanted to play soccer to be with his friends. He wanted his soccer experience to contain a significant social element. It was a pivotal discovery, and she was able to find a team within an organization that included the option to be with his friends, easily classified as a successful outcome.

Another very powerful example of the impact of choices kids face came from a different friend whose daughter is a gifted swimmer. She also loves all the other “mainstream” sports at her school…volleyball, basketball, softball, and track. Because of her talent, swimming quickly became a year-round pursuit. The biggest swim meets of the year didn’t interfere with her other activities, and because they could physically get to everything, the assumption was that everything was working out well. But one spring a couple of years ago, her daughter’s activities became overwhelming to the point of wanting to quit. My friend and her husband had a conversation with their daughter about prioritizing activities. The conversation helped clarify her goals and emphasized her power to choose, resulting in improved swimming performance.

In both examples, it took a deliberate conversation to understand the goals of the individual participating in the activity to identify what structure might best serve that person. There is an opportunity for leaders to learn from this approach. As new generations continue to enter the workforce, employees and organizations benefit from dialogue to identify driving forces/motivating factors. Do you know why your team members choose to work in your organization?

This type of conversation (beyond task-focused work and performance review) is helpful to all generations, but in particular, for those generations raised on the expectation of choice. Leaders, our team members’ jobs may or may not be related to their life’s passion, but understanding the underlying drivers for each individual increases the likelihood of a mutually beneficial experience at your organization.

My friend, Steph, so eloquently summed it up by saying, “I think our generation views pursuing passion as a worthy purpose for hard work, diligence, and loyalty. I think younger generations are more open to looking outside of the box, maybe working smarter, not harder, willing to follow intuition a little more readily, and change directions when things don’t work.”

As leaders, are you engaging your team members in conversation around the choices they have today?





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