Today’s topic was inspired by a recent communication breakdown at work.
Problem: our bosses are losing millennials.
Root cause of the issue: they can’t clearly communicate with them.
Solution: 1/2 hour lunch and learn PowerPoint presentation given by yours truly, Mrs. DS…1 of the 2 millennials remaining in the office.
Age wise, I guess I fall in the millennial category. However, most of my friends are Gen X-ers. I get along well with the baby boomers (my nickname in college was Grandma). And have 30+ years of life lessons learned early on in my career from my parents likely violating child labor laws. One could say I have a well diversified social portfolio…just like my financial one.
Moving on, let’s focus on the 5 fat things to include in your communication style. Got Deez Nutz?
Who are you writing to? Or who are you speaking to? You can’t call someone to action or do something unless you direct it specifically to them. Let’s examine this old campaign photo:
In this photo, the eyes of Uncle Sam are engaged…almost eerily looking right at you! I don’t recommend the use of using body language with a shaking finger, unless it’s to scold someone deserving of it. But, the message is clear: I Want YOU! OK Sir, you have my attention!
Back to the photo, it’s to call you to join the U.S. Army. It’s short and sweet. “I want YOU for U.S. Army.” This line emotionally inspired millions of young Americans to feel a sense of patriotism and join WWI and WWII. Dang, that’s power. From a grammar standpoint, it completely bugs me that it doesn’t have the word ‘the’ in front of U.S. but it’s not needed!
Where does Uncle Sam want you to go? Nearest Recruiting Station. Again, there’s no fluff ‘to’ or ‘the’ in this communication statement. The marketing team behind this photo obviously knows if you are smart enough to read this poster, you can fill in the blanks.
The photo leaves out the when part in their communication. It worked back then for their campaign, as the average person assumed, “Holy cow ma and pa! I can’t finish milkin’ the goats! I need to sign up now!”
Leaving out the when statement in the millennium group today doesn’t fly. Do you mean now? Or can I do it tomorrow? When it’s a good time for you? When it’s a good time for me? Don’t leave that off anymore. It confuses the hell out of Gen-Yers.
More often than not, this is left out in the communication message. You really have to make people care why in order for them to do something. The original campaign photo above does not include it. But, I have seen other revised versions of the poster that add statements such as America Needs You, To Serve Your Country As You Serve Yourself, etc. So, they modified it to answer the “Why Do You Need Me?” question.
Let’s Put It All Together!
For my presentation at work, I pulled up a few emails that were sent to millennials. One was a forward that said, “Let’s chat.” Holy buckets? How would you interpret that? Back in the day I would have assumed, “Ohhhh shiiiiit…what did I do?” Knowing people and their writing styles a little better, I usually just instant message the person, “Hey boss, your email cut off. You left out when, where and why?”
Anyway, the millennial bops into the person’s office immediately after receiving it and says, “Hey! I got your note to chat! What’s up?” The boss blows them off and says, “Oh yeah, I’m not ready to touch base on that today – can you come back tomorrow?”
And how do you think that went over with the millennial? Of course, like a turd in a punch bowl at prom.
One can about imagine how this communication breakdown, and many others similar to this, deters a newbie to stay in the office. I reminded staff that as we get older, we also get lazier in our communication style. Even begin to micromanage our coworkers like our family members. Become short, comfortable, have no filter and lack tact and professionalism in our message to coworkers.
Blow “Bonus Tip” For The Managers: There’s no incentive to stay.
I had to explain to the managers that millennials out of college are likely not going to stay for
20 30 40 years like some people in the office have. They are weighed down with an insane amount of debt and are looking for their next promotion to keep knocking it down. Unless you keep reminding them of career paths and ways they can advance themselves in the office, they are going to be looking elsewhere. And if a workplace can’t do that, then they better improve their continuity of operations to keep preparing for a vacant newbie position every 1-2 years.
Don’t forget about Dre, and include deez nuts…and bolts in your communication style. By answering the simple who, what, when, where and why key questions in your speaking and writing, you may have better luck in winning people over, calling them to action, inspiring them to do something and keeping them around longer.
What communication fails or wins do you have to share?