Welcome back to another installment of “GC Shits on Legitimate Accounting Publications For Writing Stupid Advice.” I’m your host Adrienne. In today’s episode, we’re going to destroy this recent Journal of Accountancy article about how to improve cross-generational communication in a professional setting.
Now that Generation Z has entered the workforce, colleagues at a single employer may range from those who came of age faxing to ones who posted their prom pictures to Instagram.
“We have five unique generations in the workplace,” said Lindsey Pollak, a multigenerational workplace expert and author of the forthcoming book The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace. “You could be working with someone 50 or 60 years older or younger than you.”
I mean, yeah, technically I guess you could have bright-eyed Gen Zers cozied up to some relic from the Silent Generation, but come on, let’s not be dramatic here. There’s no way some kid who was born in a world without the Twin Towers who’s working closely with someone born before World War II ended is in any way the norm.
Really, as is the case with most articles like this, it’s about “the olds” versus “millennials,” the latter of whom will start to turn 40 soon by most metrics but really encompasses anyone under the age of 40 who understands memes. Hopefully old people can figure out to communicate with us whippersnappers before we start pulling Social Security, assuming they leave any for us. For argument’s sake, however, the article uses the Pew Research Center generational boundaries as follows:
- Generation Z: born after 1997
- Millennials: born between 1981 and 1996
- Gen X: born between 1965 and 1980
- Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964
- Silent Generation: born before 1945
Looks about right. Personally I don’t mind getting lumped in with millennials, although it’s kind of funny considering I have back problems, a heart condition, and rapidly graying hair. I digress.
How different are they? “One co-worker may remember when the color TV came out; the other one may only have known Netflix,” said Jason Dorsey, a Gen Z and Millennial expert at the Center for Generational Kinetics, a generational research and thought-leadership firm based in Austin, Texas.
This matters because the technology that’s popular as we grow up tends to shape our communication styles for life, Dorsey explained.
“There is no one perfect way to communicate across generations. They all have different norms,” he said. “These communication differences are really causing a lot of problems right now because they are so pronounced.”
No shit. And? I guarantee you the fact that a colleague grew up with Atari and I the original Nintendo doesn’t affect our ability to communicate with one another; assuming, of course, that we’re not completely socially inept and therefore completely incapable of carrying on conversations in a professional capacity.
The article goes on to suggest that communication protocol should be established to prevent awkward situations, such as a rowdy Gen Z employee blowing up the group chat with dank memes. Well duh, that should kind of always be the case. Additionally, it recommends to consider the individual rather than the generation, and figure out how each person in the office best communicates. OK, we’re still doing good here. Moving on.
Don’t try to sound like you’re older or younger than you are. “If you are a very formal Baby Boomer, don’t talk about being ‘on fleek,'” which is another word for perfect, said Pollak. “It’s just weird.” If you are 22 and you’re very informal, don’t use phrases like ‘It has come to my attention,'” she added.
JESUS LORD who is this written for? Please tell me there isn’t a 60-year-old professional alive who is unironically referring to anything as “on fleek?” TBH I don’t know anyone of any age using that phrase unironically, but maybe I don’t hang out with enough youngsters. No one in the twilight of their professional career should need to be told not to speak like an imaginary youth.
Look, this is all well and good and Lord knows accountants aren’t known for being cunning linguists, so of course a little advice on communication is welcome, but come on, stop overthinking it. Be professional, don’t be a jackass, don’t text people at 8 p.m. when they’ve long left the office and expect an immediate response. There, done. Ur welcome lol.