businesscoach coach coaching coachingculture coachingquestions generational Aug 28, 2023

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the grounds of the tennis mecca called, Wimbledon, as I did a few years ago (pictured above), there is an engraved quote on the entrance wall to Center Court from the Rudyard Kipling poem, "IF":

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same.”

Take a moment to think about what this means to you. 

For me, there is a wonderful message about maintaining composure and balance in both the face of success/winning/closing a deal (Triumph) and failure (Disaster). The quote implies that one should not be overly affected by either extreme, treating them both as impostors. Easier said than done, especially in my weekly golf league! The quote reminds me to remain grounded, not letting success inflate the ego or failure demoralize it. By treating both triumph and disaster with equanimity (emotional balance), this reinforces the importance of maintaining a level head and composed mindset in various circumstances.

What does this quote mean to you?

We all have different maps of the world on how we view things. This is the value of diversity. Interestingly, I have been receiving some "reverse mentoring" which simply means that I'm seeking the advice and guidance of someone younger to help improve my social media game! And, I've been asked on more than one occasion for tips on how to communicate with different generations within the workplace. Therefore, here are some general considerations and some curious coaching questions about this topic. I am not suggesting that we put people in a box or label them - these tips serve to help us all better understand each other so that we can grow and communicate more effectively.

Traditionalists (born before 1946) Considerations:

  • Show respect and use formal language.
  • Provide clear instructions and expectations.
  • Appreciate their experience and wisdom.
  • Prefer face-to-face or phone conversations over digital communication.

Coaching Questions: 

  • What were some significant historical events or changes that shaped your worldview?
  • What values do you believe are most important for future generations to uphold?
  • How has technology impacted your personal or professional life?

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): Considerations:

  • Be respectful and acknowledge their achievements.
  • Communicate in a professional manner. 
  • Provide detailed explanations and context.
  • Offer opportunities for in-person or phone discussions.

Coaching questions:

  1. What were some key social or cultural movements you witnessed or participated in?
  2. How do you balance work and personal life priorities?
  3. What advice would you give to younger professionals based on your career experiences?

Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980): Considerations:

  • Be concise and get to the point quickly.
  • Use a straightforward and direct communication style.
  • Allow autonomy and flexibility in work.
  • Utilize a mix of digital and in-person communication methods.

Coaching Questions:

  1. How have you adapted to technological advancements throughout your career?
  2. What are some significant changes you've observed in the workplace over the years?
  3. How do you maintain a work-life balance in today's fast-paced world?

Millennials / Gen Y (born between 1981 and 1996): Considerations:

  • Use a mix of digital and in-person communication methods.
  • Provide regular feedback and recognition.
  • Offer opportunities for collaboration and teamwork.
  • Emphasize the value and purpose of their work.

Coaching questions:

  1. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in balancing work and personal life?
  2. How do you navigate the digital age and information overload?
  3. What are some of the values or causes that drive your career choices?

Gen Z (born after 1996): Considerations:

  • Communicate through various digital channels.
  • Keep messages brief and visually engaging.
  • Provide opportunities for skill development and growth.
  • Encourage open and inclusive communication.

Coaching Questions:

  1. How has growing up in a highly connected and digital world influenced your perspective on various issues?
  2. What are some ways you believe education and the workplace need to adapt to meet your generation's needs?
  3. How do you stay informed and engaged with social and environmental issues that matter to you?

It's important to remember that these are general guidelines for each generation. Or in the words of running coach, George Sheahan, "We are all unique experiments of one." What a great quote to keep in mind when you are coaching your next human. As a coach, we must be adaptable in our communication in order to effectively engage with people from different generations.

Enjoy your coaching.

Read more about What Makes a Great Coach? and learn about how you can access The Coaching Toolkit to empower your team.

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