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Generational transitions



I’m ceding my space this week to my Narrator colleague Jessica Stollings. Jessica is an expert “generational translator,” who is superb at helping people and organizations work through generational transitions, from workplace dynamic issues to leadership transitions all the way to donor base transitions. It’s awesome to be able to offer our clients Jessica as a resource—through speaking, training, coaching, and all-out consulting.

Sometimes a key part of building for your organization’s future is figuring out how to integrate Millennial staffers in a way that best taps into their strengths—and I know a lot of my clients have an even bigger problem, which is figuring out how to take an aging donor base and build into the rising generations (without alienating their existing givers). Shoot me an email if you want to chat about this stuff!

Midway through the semester, a university professor came to me very upset about her students. She had e-mailed them a homework assignment, and only one of the eight students had completed it. She wasn’t sure what to do.

We looked into the situation and learned that most of the students didn’t know about the assignment. Why? The professor had sent it by e-mail, while the students used Facebook messaging for their classes.

Yes, all of the students had been issued e-mail accounts by the university, but many of them had never logged in. Because they considered e-mail slow and outdated, they had instead opted for newer forms of communication like Facebook and text messaging.

Once the professor learned how her students communicated – and the students learned how their professor sent out her assignments – everyone was able to get on the same page.

After that, the students knew to check their university-issued e-mail accounts for assignments, and the professor learned that creating an account on Facebook would prove useful for collaborative discussions and project management.

The Bottom Line: Different generations often use different communication channels.

The Solution: Find out which communication channels your supporters or employees use for information, and establish clearly which channels they’re expected to monitor. If the people you’re trying to reach use different channels, consider adapting your message to the format they’re used to.

This blog post is excerpted from Jessica’s forthcoming book, “ReGenerations: Why Connecting Generations Matters (And How to Do It).”