The benefits of creating and growing a culture of career development and learning are obvious.
But as you’re encouraging career development culture you must be aware of two things:
- What balance of isolated career development (trainings, classes, etc.) vs. social career development (mentoring programs, coaching, social learning, etc.) exists in your organization.
- What pre-existing conditions may limit the way career development is able to occur.
For the sake of this article, let’s focus on #2 – namely, how individuals interact with each other in productive and nonproductive ways, and how communication and learning styles play into those interactions.
You may already be too well aware of friction between individuals in your organization, and if you are, take a step back and see if that friction fits into a larger pattern.
If you’re not aware of any larger issues of communication and/or understanding in your organization, look again. Even if those issues aren’t being expressed outright, you may see them manifesting themselves in performance, employee engagement, and productivity.
Speaking the Wrong Language
If you have ever tried to communicate with a person who speaks a different language than you, you know how frustrating it can be. The more of your language that they speak, the better off you both are. If you speak some of their language too, you have two ways of expressing yourself that you can both use, even if that happens to be in bits and pieces.
But if neither of you speak any of the other’s language, you’re left with nonverbal communication – which at best leaves a lot up for interpretation, and makes both of you frustrated and ready to give up the attempt, or wait for an interpreter.
With four generations in the workforce now, it would be stranger if you didn’t have some communication issues. Baby Boomers, and Gen X, Y, and Z all have different views on:
- Technology and its role in the workplace
- Career goals and how they plan to achieve them
- Motivation and how to drive them to reach their full potential
It’s imperative that you understand these differences, and equally imperative that they understand those differences in each other – not just so that they know how to speak each other’s language, but so that putting their newly acquired language skills into practice, they learn that “difference” is not the same as “impediment”. On the contrary, in a team that truly functions as a team, “difference” can mean a strength that fills an organizational gap.
But someone has to give them that first push to see that.
Career Development Challenges... and Solution
We spoke in another article about the problem of succession and retention of institutional knowledge when, once again, the workforce comprised of 3 generations is constantly shifting between organizations, and organizational levels. The career path is nowhere near as straightforward as individuals expected it to be. Uncertainty is high across all job functions, levels, and sectors.
We said there that mentoring is an excellent way to foster communication, and with communication, transfer of knowledge and skills across and between disparate sections of your organization – including different generations.
Our prescription is similar here. Learn more about how a mentoring program can help your organization.