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Failure to communicate with the Boomers

Why do creative data analysts meet resistance? I’ve written about them before: many are young, they’re smart, and their credentials might still be slim. But they’re still a value to their employers, no matter who knows it yet.

At least some of it’s about Boomers vs. the up-and-comers. One corporate communications consultant I talked to, Liz Guthridge at Connect ConsultingGroup, has seen all this in action.

“Boomers are still interested in experts,” she says, “people with loads of experience and loads of credentials.”

Liz tells of one client, a Syracuse University alum, who hired a young guy as CIO. The newly hired young man was “impressive,” Liz recalls. Among other attributes, he had done a double major in college of public relations and information technology. This was his first job out of school.

The client, she says, kept belittling his knowledge — even though he was, Liz says, “really solid.” The problem was in the way the new CIO communicated with the boss.

Liz has advice for younger people with important things to tell their Boomer bosses. The first three points:

1. Think of the exchange from the senior person’s point of view. Since boomers love experts, always provide proof points. And not from Twitter but from boomer-recognized sources like the Harvard Business Review.

2. Network from the bottom up. Find out who the senior person listens to and talk to them. No explicit appeals, just talk.

3. Use the senior’s preferred communication channel. The woman who hired the CIO liked to schedule phone calls, not email or text.

The young CIO, she tells me, is still on the job, though he’s cut back his hours.

One comment

  1. Aravind says:

    Very solid advice. Such practices (when the current gen understands and speaks in a language that the Boomers best understand) will go a long way in bridging the generation gap.

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