TLCL Podcasts - The Low Carb Leader | Generational Echo Effects; Say Goodbye to Yesterday's Management Style

Welcome back to The Low Carb Leader Podcast! On today’s show, Dan and Jacob are talking with Marc Miller, founder of Career Pivot, about the generational echo effects currently happening in today’s workforce and how millennial leaders can get past the communication obstacles that often show up at work.

As a baby boomer, Marc began his career at IBM, where he spent 22 years working as an engineer before travelling the world and expanding his cultural knowledge within and out of the workplace. After seeing the sights and gaining more experience about how people in different cultures as well as different generations work together, he founded Career Pivot, a career-designed firm for workers in the second half of life. Marc currently focuses on helping baby boomer workers make meaningful career transitions.

Today, he shares his thoughts, insights, and tips on how to improve communication throughout the workplace by taking into consideration the generational differences and adapting to them.

“If you want your employees to listen to you, you have to adapt to their communication style.” – Marc Miller

In This Episode of The Aspiring New Leader:

  • We discuss how the different generations interact and communicate within the workplace.
  • Marc explains what the ‘Generational Echo Effect’ is and how it affects an organization.
  • He explains the differences and similarities between each generation – in life, business, and career.
  • He explains how the different generations get along and communicate in the workplace and how to work through communication logistics.
  • He explains that millennials were raised to be good team players and how that affects their working and communication styles.

Marc’s Top 3 Generational Communication Tips:

  1. Ask how your employees prefer to communicate with you.
  2. Don’t expect everyone to be like you.
  3. Adapt your style as necessary.

Key Takeaways:

  1. No generation is homogeneous. Everyone is different.
  2. Once you start understanding the generational effects of your employees and co-workers, you will be able to understand how to communicate with them more effectively and efficiently.

Reach Out to Marc Miller:

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009 – Generational Echo Effects: Saying Goodbye to Yesterday’s Management Style

DAN:

Welcome to The Aspiring New Leader podcast. I’m your host, Dan Perryman, and you have joined us for Episode 9. Today we have a very exciting show. We are interviewing Marc Miller, founder of CareerPivot.com. Career Pivot is a career design firm for those in the second half of life. So Marc really focuses on helping baby boomers transition into a second career. But today we’re going to be discussing how the different generations interact in the workplace.

 

Marc began his career at IBM. He spent 22 years as an engineer, and after he left IBM he traveled the world doing several different jobs. And now he focuses on career transitions, primarily for the baby boomers. And now to the interview. We hope you enjoy it.

 

Marc, you want to introduce yourself a little bit more to the audience?

 

MARC:

Sure. Name is Marc Miller, and I’m here to talk about multiple generations. The reality is I’ve taught in about 40 different countries, and I look at the generational problems we have in industry today as just another cultural problem. Hopefully we’ll be able to explain why millennials don’t behave like baby boomers.

 

DAN:

So before we get started, what’s your favorite country that you’ve been to?

 

MARC:

It’s interesting. From 2000 to 2004 I spent a lot of time training in Mainland China, and that is where I probably had more cultural things thrown in my face. The more I understood the Chinese, the less I understood them. And there are all kinds of stories behind that. But I claim whenever you go someplace new, to a new culture, you learn more about your own culture than you do theirs because it’s not better or worse; it’s just different.

 

DAN:

So what is the generational echo effect?

 

The Generational Echo Effect

 

MARC:

I like to look at this as if you ask anyone when they have left home what most people will tell you is I either did what my parents told me to do, or I did the exact opposite. Another way of looking at this is ask anyone who is raising kids, are you raising your kids the same way you were raised? And the answer isn’t just no; it’s usually hell no. So what happens is we Yin and Yang between generations. So I’ll use the example my parents’ generation. My father, almost every one in my father’s generation, the greatest generation, served in World War II. They all served in the military. They believed in big government. They were very loyal to their government. My generation, what did we do? We went through Watergate and Vietnam. We didn’t trust the government worth a damn. Our parents grew up through The Depression. They saved like crazy. So what did my generation do? We spent money like crazy. So when we look at the millennials, my generation, we were very private. Our kids, they created Facebook.

 

DAN:

So Marc, does the following generation always go in an opposite direction?

 

MARC:

Well it either – as I said, you either do what your parents told you to do, or you do the opposite. So a good example of this is my parents believed in big companies, big government, and to a large extent even though many boomers will tell you we in our 20s went out to find ourselves, the reality is most of us were raised to be employees, to go work for father-like companies who would take care of us. And we were supposed to live and work until we retired after 30 or 40 years. And of course they moved our [inaudible 0:03:58.6]. So most of us follow what our parents told us to do in some ways. In other ways we did the exact opposite and not a whole lot in between.

 

JACOB:

So Marc, how did you differ from your parents and/or follow in the footsteps of your parents?

 

MARC:

Well I, like my father – my dad was an economist in the New York Stock Exchange. They believed – so what did I do? I graduated from college. I put it bluntly. I went to work for a father-like company. I went to work for IBM, and I did that for 22 years. On the other side, I have a nasty entrepreneurial streak that my father, you know, going I finally – it took me a lot of years to break away, but nope, I don’t – in that way I’m not like my father at all.

 

DAN:

Yeah, that’s pretty interesting, the changes in generations because I look back – my dad was – he is no longer living, but he was born in 1928, and he’s – that generation is that generation. We talked about this earlier, Marc, that you know, he didn’t make that much money as a mailman, yet he saved more money than probably most people making a lot more could have ever saved, which – but he just never spent.

 

MARC:

Correct, because he grew up through The Depression. Wasn’t – probably was not old enough to serve in World War II, but World War II had rationing, had – it was a very sparse upbringing. And so, by the way, your parents’ generation is a very, very small generation because birth rates plummeted during the Depression and World War II. Therefore, Generation X is also a very small generation.

 

Communication Differences Between Generations

 

DAN:

So what about this new generation, the millennials?

 

MARC:

You know, it’s interesting. I like to say as a baby boomer I’m very, very competitive. So what did we do with our kids? Everyone gets a blue ribbon. Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone gets a participation award. So it’s the way you manage them, their reward structure is very, very different. And you have to understand that they want different things than we do. And so in many ways we raised them in such a way that they are doing things that we wish we had done. The millennials today, they is the way they is because we made them that way.

 

DAN:

So in the workplace, how do the different generations get along because, you know, we talked about this earlier. I attended this conference, and there was a millennial generational speaker, and the communication methods are much different between the generations.

 

MARC:

Sure. If you look at – and I do a multigenerational workshop, and one of the areas I work on, I kind of divvy out, is how each generation natively communicates. So I’ll use the example, my parents, when they left home they wrote letters in cursive. As you moved up in generations, as we went through your parents’ generation, the Silent Generation, they were the first ones to have long-distance phone calls. The next we had with my generation – we’re an auditory generation. We like to be talked to. Gen Xers were the first ones to have electronic communications. They were the first ones to have email. And the kids today, they text. So I compare this to when I went into China, if I wanted to train the Chinese I needed to adapt to them. I wasn’t going to make them learn like a Westerner. It doesn’t work that way. So similarly, when you look at communication styles, if I want you to listen to me I have to adapt to you.

 

So this goes both ways. If I have a bunch of millennial employees, they will prefer to be communicated with electronically, texting, instant messaging, Slack. It’s a different communication style. Similarly, if you’re a 30-year-old or a 25-year-old and you have a baby boomer boss in his 50s or 60s and you want them to listen to you, you need to go talk to them. So it’s a multidimensional – everyone has to adapt to one another.

 

So I did my workshop a couple years ago in Tampa for a nationwide staffing agency, and people were coming from all over the country, and I arrived the day before. And I noticed that everyone was texting their kids back home. And these were mostly boomers. And so the next day in my workshop I just kind of looked around and said okay, how many of you folks are boomers? And about, out of the 200 about 170, 180 hands went up. I said okay, how many of you guys text your kids back home? And almost every hand went up. I said oh, you’ve modified your communication style for your kids. Are you willing to do it for your younger employees? And I left it at that.

DAN:

So Marc, so who gives in to who with the communication styles because that’s one of the issues that I have heard where the person, maybe the baby boomer, expects the other person to communicate like they do, actually by the phone as opposed to the opposite way of the millennial wanting the texting? How do you work through those logistics at work?

 

MARC:

Well, number one, you have to understand with each person what’s the best way to communicate with them. You need to ask, and there is no right way or a single way. So I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve done this workshop and I’ve had 25-year-olds come up to me afterwards saying, okay, I’m going to call mom and dad from now on. I’m going to stop texting them. If you have younger employees and you really want them to listen, you need to modify your style. At the same time, you have to teach them in this multigenerational workplace that not everyone is going to communicate in the same fashion. So I’ll use the example, sometimes I’ll – I deal with a lot of small business owners, and you’re out installing flooring at a customer’s location and the husband is 36 and the wife is 28, and you need to get a hold of them immediately. How do you do it? And the right answer is you’re probably going to text the wife because that’s how we’re typically going to get the fastest response.

 

Don’t leave a voicemail for a 25-year-old. They won’t listen to it. A good example of this is at my nonprofit that I work with, Launch Pad Job Club, Indeed.com is our sponsor. And the one director brings in – I joke he brings his kids with him. He brings a bunch of young employees with him every Friday. And I asked Brendan the one day, I said so when do your kids, these 25-year-olds come to work? And he says well, I drop my kids off at school about 8:30 or 8:00. I come into work, and then they start showing up at 9:30, 10:00. He says, but I can text them any time of day and night and they respond. So it’s not about getting us all on the same page as much as all of us adapting to everyone else. And the key piece here is I need to go ask if that makes sense, right?

 

JACOB:

It makes perfect sense, Marc. You know, from my standpoint I have quite a few people that report to me that are older than I am, being 32, and one of the first things I did was sit down and talk to them about how they wanted to be communicated to. I let them know that texting me, or calling me, or emailing me was okay, but also the fact that I understand if they are coming to my office and talking to me face-to-face that’s actually more comfortable, how possibly they want to communicate. So it’s just understanding each other.

 

MARC:

One of the challenges I have with boomers, they read emotion into emails and texts.

 

DAN:

Yeah, when I read emails I don’t even read emotions into it. When I write them, though, I’ll read them over and make sure that they can’t be interpreted in the wrong way because it is pretty easy to interpret an email the wrong way, really.

MARC:

Oh, very much so. As a boomer, I’m not wired that way. I grew up picking up the phone. I had long distance phone calls. As I joke, if I have boomers in a room I’ll go, who remembers two rings and hang up? You’d call home and let it ring twice and hang up, and your parents new to call you back so they’d pay for the phone call. And so it’s just understanding how people want to be communicated with and with written communications it can be misinterpreted. My favorite one was my son the one time, he sent me a text, and he was responding and he said, “K.” And I responded back, what does that mean? And he says oh, it’s short for okay. My response is you have to shorten it?

 

JACOB:

You know, I actually have that on the, kind of from the other end, Marc. When my dad first started texting he texted everything in capital letters. I said, Dad, you know the response to that is that you’re upset or you’re yelling. He goes, oh, I didn’t know that. It was just easier for me to read.

 

MARC:

That’s right. Believe it or not I had an email address in 1979, and that was a mistake I made is I would type things in caps, and I was later told you’re yelling at me. I am? Okay. I didn’t know that.

 

 

Communicate Better at Work

 

DAN:

So what do you think are maybe the top 3 to 5 communication mistakes that the different generations make? What could help our listeners communicate better at work? So what are the things to avoid, and what are the things to do?

 

MARC:

Well, the first thing is to do exactly what Jacob said, was to go ask. Two, don’t expect everyone’s [like 0:13:41.0] to be like you. That is probably, particularly from a boomer perspective, that is probably the number one – well, they’re all like me. Well, no they’re not. Three, particularly with the kids, you may have to work on them to improve their verbal communication skills. The kids today – yes, Jacob, I’m calling you a kid because I’m old enough to be your father – is the fact they were educated very differently than us. Because they’ve done so much electronic communications over the last 15 years, their verbal communication skills are not necessarily up to par. So you kind of have to be understanding that they do not communicate like you. And if you want them to communicate better with you, you need to teach them.

 

DAN:

When a millennial first starts, or just as it comes up as an issue?

 

 

 

MARC:

I would – again, one of the things, if I had a new employee, I would be assessing their communication skills and finding out how much have they presented in college, how good are they at presenting, how good are they at communicating one on one? And then figure out, do I need to help them? None of these generations are homogeneous. There are symptoms that run across. And so just like not all baby boomers are the same, not all millennials are the same. But you’ve got to – it’s one of those things you have to look for.

 

Generational Similarities and Differences in the Workplace

 

DAN:

So what would you say are the similarities between the generations? You know, because they always say that there are more things that are alike than things that are different. So what are the things that are more alike across generations? And then what are the key differences that we have to address?

 

MARC:

So here’s a really good example. As a baby boomer I was very loyal to my employer. If you talk to most millennials they will tell you that they’re loyal to their employer. And we go, what? You want to change jobs every two to three years. How is that showing loyalty? And the reality is they will be loyal to their employer if their employer is loyal to them. That’s an important caveat. Now one of the things when our employers, as a baby boomer, screwed us, we stayed loyal. You guys? No.

 

DAN:

So there’s no longer the work 25 years for the gold watch?

 

MARC:

One of the big differences between millennials and baby boomers is millennials want to be involved in the decision-making process. It doesn’t mean they have to make the decision, but they want to be involved in it. And in my generation our bosses went off to the back room and made all the decisions, and they came back and told us. And we said, oh geez, that’s okay. We didn’t like it.

 

DAN:

I think that’s a big difference because when we see the millennials at work that’s the one thing that they say is they want to be involved in the actual decision-making and plotting the course of where the company is going, and that – I remember my dad that was a lot different back then, as you were saying. You just kind of went to work back then and did your job and went home. And now it’s a whole different situation at work.

 

MARC:

One of the big differences is I claim millennials are pack animals. They were raised in groups. We put them on teams. All the education was done in teams. Some will tell you that all the members of the team didn’t participate equally, but they were raised in groups. So one of the big differences is my parents were – as I said, every one of our fathers served in the military. We were raised to be strong individuals. Our kids, we didn’t raise them to be strong individuals. We raised them to be good team players. So that dynamic is very, very different, and don’t expect them to behave like you. I said I talked to this one staffing agency, and I had several people come up afterwards and said, oh yeah, Mary, every time we give her assignment she finds two or three other people to kind of work with her on the project. And this goes back to them wanting to be involved in decision-making. They want to be put in a group, and they want to be – hopefully they want to be in a group of their peers and above, and they want to be heard. That’s the key piece.

 

DAN:

Yeah, that’s a big difference. I’m just thinking the way I think compared to the way my oldest daughter thinks. And I’m happy just kind of hanging out by myself most of the time, but even at work and out of work she is surrounded with her friends constantly. There’s really never a day that she’s not surrounded with a whole group of people.

 

MARC:

Culturally it’s very, very different. And so therefore, don’t expect them to be like you.

 

JACOB:

So Marc, as millennials raise children and they come into the workplace, what do you feel is going to happen at that point?

 

MARC:

Good question. Right now there’s the discussion of Generation Z and how they will be different from Generation Y. And by the way, they are the products of primarily Gen Xers. What will your kids look like? You got me. My guess is they will never have seen a paper book before.

 

DAN:

Yeah, my daughter is turning 15, and one of the main ways you can get in trouble at her school is if you don’t charge your computer. She has no books. It’s just a Chromebook, and she does all her classes are on that computer.

 

JACOB:

And I’ve noticed with my daughters that are three and one, and the young ages they are, is really everything is a touchscreen to them regardless of whether it is a touchscreen or not. And then also patience seems to be a little bit more of a struggle because they’re born into an instant gratification world.

 

MARC:

Oh, very much so. And some of this, believe it or not, is socioeconomic. You guys are rich. I spent two years teaching high school in an inner-city minority-based, poverty-based high school, and I experienced very different with that group. What will these kids look like? I don’t have a clue.

DAN:

So Marc, we’re actually running out of time here, so I want to give you an opportunity to kind of sum up your thoughts.

 

MARC:

Sure. One of the key things you have to understand about every generation, they’re not homogeneous, but you can, by looking at – and if I do my multigenerational talk I talk about things by communication style, how each generation learns. Then what were the seminal events in technologies that affected each generation? And by the way, Generation X, you talk to Generation Xers and they say I’m not a Gen Xer. And the primary reason why was there was nothing that happened in your lifetime that galvanized your generation. In my generation it was Vietnam. It was Watergate. With the millennials it was the Great Recession and 9/11 that brought everyone together. And so in looking at – and then the technologies, technologies have had a big impact. In my generation with baby boomers, believe it or not, it’s 1965, the pill. And the second one is 1969, Visa credit cards had tremendous impacts that caused our generation to do things the way they were. The key piece is once you start understanding the effects, then you start seeing, okay, here’s why this cohort is the way they are. And by the way, their children’s generation is usually the exact opposite. It’s not saying you’re a millennial; you’re going to be some way. It’s your millennial; let me ask you questions to understand what you expect and not necessarily expect you to be like me.

 

DAN:

So Marc, how can people find out more about you?

 

More About Marc’s Multi-Generational Work

 

MARC:

You can reach me at careerpivot.com. I have a new book coming out called Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the Second Half of Life, which by the way many Gen Xers and even some older millennials will get some benefit out of. And you can find that if you go to careerpivot.com/boomer. If you’re interested in any of my multigenerational work just go to careerpivot.com/multi-generation, and you’ll find – and I’ll create a link for that, and you’ll be able to download my multigenerational workplace white paper.

 

DAN:

Yeah, and we can put that link in the show notes.

 

MARC:

Sure. My goal with the multigenerational piece is to get people to get off on the fact that people – everyone’s like you because they’re not. But what’s the questions I need to ask? I just did this talk for the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, and they’re discovering these doctors coming out, they’re not like the doctors of 20 years ago. They only want to work nine months of the year and go volunteer for three months during the summer in India. Baby boomers, we volunteer less than any generation in history. Our kids, they volunteer more than anybody in history. So your expectations of them should be different.

 

DAN:

Excellent. Jacob, any closing thoughts?

 

JACOB:

No. Thank you, Marc.

 

DAN:

Marc, we really appreciate you being on the show today.

 

MARC:

Yeah, the one thing I want you to remember, Jacob, you is the way you is.

 

DAN:

I’m going to start using that.

 

MARC:

We made you that way.

 

JACOB:

Thank you for that.

 

MARC:

So every time a boomer complains about the millennials you just remind them.

 

JACOB:

I will.

 

DAN:

Great. Well, thank you for being on the show, Marc. We really appreciate it.

 

MARC:

Thank you, sir.

 

DAN:

Well, we hope you enjoyed the interview today. Please remember to visit us at thelowcarbleader.com. We are also on three different social media sites. You can reach us at Facebook at thelowcarbleader.com, and please like the page, and that way you can get updates. We’re also on Twitter, @daniellperryman, and under Daniel Perryman you can find us on LinkedIn as well. So we hope you enjoyed the show, and until next time, take care and keep learning.

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