By: Misti Burmeister

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being”
– Goethe

The April Newsletter introduced a chart emphasizing “5 Shifts to Common Understanding” in workplace communication between the generations. Beginning this month, and for the next 4 months, to further foster understanding, I will elaborate on one concept for creating common ground in communication.

Shift Number One in Creating Common Ground:

Seasoned Professionals:




Young Professionals:

1. Paying Your Dues


Building credibility/ create a path


Wanting it all now

Young Professionals:As a Generation Yer, you may have a deep desire to move ahead quickly, have your views heard immediately and begin with a high salary. While there is certainly nothing “wrong” with any of these desires, I would encourage you to see another side.Take time to consider your career goals, share them with a trusted mentor and look for ways to reach your goals while supporting your organization/team. For example, if your desire is to be the lead on a major project and you have only been with the company six months, you might consider what experiences you could gain to prepare yourself for success in a project like this. Ask your manager what experiences/skills are required in order to be the lead on a project.

Consider this: If you were the person responsible for the success of a project, would you want to ensure the right person, with the right skills and experiences is on the job? Of course you would!

Demonstrating your ability with smaller tasks, helps managers to see your capabilities and increases their comfort level in giving you more visible, larger projects. Once you share your career goals and define a strategy, look for ways to gain the experiences necessary to build credibility. This may mean creating opportunities for yourself, or taking on projects that may not be your specific job duty. You may need to volunteer your time outside your normal job tasks to gain the experiences you need.

Seasoned Professionals:During a presentation in Washington DC, Billy, a Generation Xer, shared his frustration with Generation Yers: “When I began my career, I wanted to show them what I was made of, get great experiences and get ahead quickly. After fifteen years in the workforce, I can see why experience is so important – I have a completely different understanding of what it takes to be successful. I don’t get these Generation Yers – they want to have it all without first gaining some life experience.”I looked at him a little dumbfounded. Was he aware of what he had said? His intense judgment of others starting out the exact same way he did, was ironic. But, once he saw that Generation Yers are really not much different from himself, he had a whole new level of understanding.

Take a moment and recall when you first entered the workforce. Can you relate to the desire to get ahead, gain experiences/exposure? When you find a way to relate, it’s less likely you will take their actions/inactions as a personal attack. Instead, you may be able to find a way to offer the experiences they are seeking while also reaching your individual/organizational goals.

Taking time to find common ground can only enhance relationships and company productivity.

Next Time:






1. Making them just do the work


Creating a learning relationship


What can the company do for me?

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