Communicating in a Multigenerational Workplace

Today’s post is written by Kronos Summer Intern, Megan Grenier. Megan is an intern on our mid-market marketing team. She’ll be returning to Saint Anselm College this fall where she’s studying communications.

My experience as an intern at Kronos this summer has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to learn and do so many new things. One of the most interesting aspects of my work experience – and sometimes one of the most challenging – has been learning to communicate appropriately with colleagues who span many generations.

When I first started, I had to learn many new technologies that I was not accustomed to. Next, I had to learn how each person I work with communicates. I work with fellow Kronites who span Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. It can get a little tricky trying to balance all of the communication styles!

I have had to ask a lot of questions: when should I send an email versus an IM? When is an in-person conversation the best option? Is it okay if I stop by my boss’s office unannounced?

With so many questions, I have made a few mistakes: like not hitting “reply all” on an email or starting to work on a task my manager just emailed me about without first telling him that I was available to do so. While I have made my fair share of mistakes, I have learned a lot because of them. Perhaps the biggest two things I have learned is that it is okay to ask questions, and it is better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate.

And so, based on my experience, my two pieces of advice to future interns would be:

  1. Ask as many questions as you need to: It is better to get clarification early on, so you can be led in the right direction, rather than making errors along the way. I have noticed that my managers and coworkers appreciate my consideration, and it makes my life a whole lot easier.
  2. Overcommunicate. My managers always prefer when I give them more information than less. They want to be kept in the loop. So, it is okay if you send them that extra email, they will appreciate it.

Communicating with people in general can be a challenge, but multigenerational communication is a whole new ball game. To learn more about the topic, check out my series The ABC’s of XYZ on Kronos’s What Works blog, where I dive deeper into these questions, to help bridge the communication divide in a multigenerational workforce.

4 thoughts on “Communicating in a Multigenerational Workplace

  1. It is refreshing to hear feedback from an intern, and the insightful content is especially telling of both the intern and the organization sponsoring her internship. This intern seems to be off to a really great start in her professional journey, and it seems she has learned an extremely valuable lesson at a very early point in her life. Throughout my lifetime, even though I have heard complaints of people talking “too much” (while presumably trying to communicate), I have not ever heard a complaint of someone “over-communicating”. What I feel and believe is that nearly all things can be accomplished with thorough and timely communications with all relevant parties involved, which often, is much easier said than done, and at times is more of an illusion than a reality. Still, the advice of this intern is right on point especially related to the work environment – keep asking questions until you truly understand (#1), and provide timely feedback and follow-up to ensure your supervisor remains well-informed (#2). I believe this advice is applicable for all employees in all levels within an organization, and for all generations.

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