Episode 81: Managing Gen Z and intergenerational communication with Dr Carrie Root
April 12th, 2022
42 mins 45 secs
About this Episode
Welcome to Dr. Carrie Root, who joins us to share her book The Other Soft Skill that teaches about intergenerational communication and connection. Carrie has had a number of career twists and turns, breaking barriers as an IT consultant with the Navy and now as an educational consultant.
Carrie tells us that she ignored the gender differences she found in her early career by pretending there wasn’t one.
With her work consulting with the Navy on pause, she did some consulting with NASA and thought about everything she’d learned and saw a lack in teamwork from earlier in her career.
Carrie learned about a local Rotary Club program that gave free tuition to kids who kept their grades up and were responsible enough to graduate, and did some research to see that many of them weren’t able to complete their advanced degree programs. She saw the opportunities to get kids from local schools internships, but was hearing that they were too rough.
Carrie also found that when kids come out of school they were used to homogeneous groups, and in the workplace she was seeing communication and style breakdowns.
She was able to set up partners, buddies, and mentors in order to build relationships across groups and help them learn to understand each other and their style. She realized that by getting to know others, team members were able to see each other as people vs stereotypical generational people.
We discussed how leaders can set norms for how a team communicates and start the conversation about how to communicate across the team. Carrie also told us about how managers help with adaptability around new technologies and norms. Getting people teaching each other is a key to intergenerational team success.
Carrie reminds us all to learn from each other and each other’s perspectives. We have so many opportunities to take time, develop relationships, and listen to each other. Listening is the most under-rated skill in the workplace. If we listened more instead of thinking about what we’re going to say next, we could all connect and serve each other better.
Gen Z tends to want to learn and grow, so when managing them, make sure they are always learning, having new experiences, and can learn from each other. You also want to make sure they have the best software and equipment to be as efficient as possible. She makes sure that for Gen Zs they have no penalty for asking questions or trying new things.
“If you learn from something that didn’t go well, that doesn’t mean it was a bad thing.” We talk about learning, growth, and growth mindset and wanting to learn and move forward.
We ask Carrie where to find mentors. She says that you need to think about what you bring as a mentee and what your responsibilities are as someone being mentored. You need to set expectations, commit time, and work towards your goals. Look for mentors outside of your organization and to help with certain goals.
What happens if someone is afraid to ask someone to mentor them? Carrie feels that if you’re afraid to ask, maybe you’re not ready to be mentored, and if you assume they won’t want to, you’re putting words in their mouth. She recommends asking in a way that it’s ok for them to say no or to say “not now”. That way you know if they say yes they want to do it.
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