Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bridging the Gap

I remember when pagers were the trendy item to have. I also fondly remember the numeric code language used to communicate with one another via pager just like text messaging without the ability to respond instantly and wherever you were.

434-40111-8-11 = hey how are you
11143123-8-11 = where are you

Don't ask how it makes sense but I do remember that I was extraordinarily apt in communicating in pager text talk. When cell phones became smaller and more cost effective it practically eliminated the pager industry and completely buried the language of numeric pager text talk.

Fast forward many years later to today with SMS and now MMS as mainstream mediums of communication.

To be quite honest I truly loathed texting and was a late adopter of it. I was brought up to have concise phone conversations with proper phone etiquette of introducing yourself and requesting who you were looking to speak to. I will even add that I still mail a handwritten letter or card to thank people for large gifts or events. Albeit I don't do it quite as often as I used to and I think its because I'm progressively switching to the Gen Y's preferred method of communication - text messaging.

Informal, quick, responsive and fairly culturally accepted to "text" even in the company of other people. The main reason I started to adopt text messaging with its very specific communication restraints and effectiveness was because as a manager of Gen Y'ers I found them to be my main customers and focus; like I expected them to focus on our customers I found that I had to focus on them to get to my customer. Although I still find it hard to effectively communicate via text messaging and I find that sometimes it takes longer to deliver a message, it has it's advantages.

Quick, informal, responsive, specific, multi task

Depth, miscommunication, emotion, passive aggressive in the sense of being intrusive to your day to day

Although there are many strengths and weaknesses that I have not thought of, my ultimate decision to not only adopt but accept and flourish in the text messaging culture to give my "customers" what they want allows me to more effectively lead them to get the desired result.

Its common knowledge and a simple but fundamental business philosophy:

Listen and understand what your customers want and give it to them.

I find that many managers struggling with managing Gen Y'ers have a huge disconnect between the generations' cultural differences. More often than not Gen Y'ers don't like to be managed and prefer to be lead, and in order to lead you need to see your employees as your customer and listen and understand what they want and . . . . . give it to them.


  1. The ease of texting is great, but man, miscommunication is way too easy. It's getting better as more people have smart phones with keyboards and no character limits on texts. I think kids that grow up with this will be more verbose in their text messages. That'll make it easier to get complex ideas across via text. But since you're writing about GenY... well, they're not going to change their habit. And that habit is lots of abbreviations, no sentences, run on ideas. Basically anything that makes it hard to read and understand the message.

    If you're not GenY of course. No GenY'er would admit to having trouble "understanding" a text!

  2. Young, this blog is completely awesome!
    -Rich H.