How IT Managers Can Bridge the Generational Technology Gap

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2015-10-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    1 - How IT Managers Can Bridge the Generational Technology Gap
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    How IT Managers Can Bridge the Generational Technology Gap

    As the workforce evolves, organizations need to adopt new technologies and transform existing processes to meet the needs of Millennials, Baby Boomer and Gen-Xers.
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    2 - Rework Job Descriptions
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    Rework Job Descriptions

    This will advertise what matters to Millennials: professional development, mentoring and flexibility. In interviews, think about different experiences and paths a potential employee could take, and emphasize those options. Remember, Millennials don't respond well to rigid hierarchy, and they prefer rapid progression within the organization—a mindset often perceived as entitlement.
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    3 - Evaluate BYOD Policies
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    Evaluate BYOD Policies

    Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are an effective way to support Millennials (who value freedom and self-expression) as well as Gen Xers and Boomers (who desire more flexibility to balance work with care for children or aging parents). Before offering BYOD privileges, it is important to set up secure mobile access to internal systems. For instance, enterprise content management systems offer a wide range of functionality to ensure that once the employee finishes accessing privileged information, all data is cleared from their personal device and they are logged out of the session.
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    4 - Define Office-Mandatory Functions
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    Define Office-Mandatory Functions

    In a 2012 survey of college-educated Millennials, 60 percent of respondents considered work-from-home policies to be an important factor in deciding whether to accept a new job. For jobs that don't require physically being in the office, consider setting up remote employee access to IT systems. As an example, some enterprise content management solutions allow users to search, retrieve and edit documents on a Web browser from anywhere.
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    5 - Set Concrete Guidelines
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    Set Concrete Guidelines

    In exchange for flexible work privileges, employees should be willing to offer a reasonable level of transparency to their employers so that both parties are satisfied. Project deadlines, check-in meetings and availability by instant message are a few ways to hold employees accountable. In addition, security best practices can limit who accesses what information, with documents in enterprise content management systems secured through access control lists, security tags and disabled export to ensure sensitive information is viewable only by authorized personnel.
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    6 - Eliminate Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks
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    Eliminate Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks

    This is so Millennials spend time on "valuable" work. Like Gen-Xers, Millennials are results-driven; it's the timeframe in which the results are achieved that differ. Millennials assume results should be achieved within 40 hours per week. If efficient, it may take fewer than 40 hours. Using business process automation to cut out the busywork involved in everyday processes—such as expense report submittals, purchase order approvals, travel requests and contract renewals—is one way to support efficient-minded Millennials—and satisfy busy Gen- Xers, too.
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    7 - Use e-Forms for Common Interactions
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    Use e-Forms for Common Interactions

    This is for standardizing communication. When everyone is submitting the same form, there isn't a debate over what an email may have meant or if it was even read. Using e-forms software with built-in business process automation functionality to control, monitor, route and confirm receipt of common requests ensures that everyone has the same information, everyone who needs to review it does so, and that approvals occur quickly.
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    8 - Encourage Collaboration
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    Encourage Collaboration

    We're talking about collaboration in both workspaces and technology. Millennials are social beings; they're used to being in constant contact via IM, text and social media, so a modern collaborative workplace appeals to them. As a group, Millennials prefer nonintrusive, casual modes of communication like texting and email, while Gen Xers prefer face-to-face or phone meetings. IT departments should support social, group chat and video conferencing, or risk falling prey to shadow IT as employees of both generations find their own solutions.
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    9 - Enable Disruption and Innovation
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    Enable Disruption and Innovation

    When Millennials see a process as broken or in need of improvement, they frequently will do what they view as "fixing" it, without necessarily worrying about what other generations view as common courtesies, such as asking permission. While this can be shocking—or even come across as "entitled"—to some people, it's a great attitude for business process improvement. Encourage Millennials to diagram business processes to ensure they are as simple, logical and consistent as possible, then let them work with stakeholders to translate them into automated workflows.
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    10 - Use Job Rotation to Improve Motivation
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    Use Job Rotation to Improve Motivation

    This is aimed at both Millennials and Gen-Xers. Instead of locking workers into a single career trajectory, companies are embracing job rotation, which moves employees through a variety of positions within departments or teams. Millennials satisfy their need for progression without a promotion while broadening their skill sets and gaining a holistic view of the organization, while Gen-Xers grow their role and status by taking on more responsibility training and transferring knowledge to the next generation.
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    11 - Build Intergenerational Connections
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    Build Intergenerational Connections

    When generations learn from each other, they ultimately understand and respect each other. Millennials are able to learn and develop their skill sets, while Gen-Xers and Boomers can give back to the organization and create more impact. But with their mobile, collaborative, social lifestyle, Millennials crave a different type of mentoring than other generational groups. Be flexible and consider self-organizing mentoring using an anonymous online feedback tool, as well as approaches like reverse mentoring, where younger employees mentor senior executives.
 

Millennials (born from 1981-2000) grew up with the Internet, smartphones, open-source software and digital information. While Baby Boomers (1945-1960) and Gen-Xers (1961-1980) are comfortable with these technologies, when people grow up expecting to be able to download information essentially anytime they want, it's not surprising these differing attitudes toward technology can cause conflict. Despite wild differences in preferences and attitudes, generations in the 2015 workforce are co-dependent: Boomers need to fill gaps in leadership created by a retiring workforce, Gen-Xers need to grow their teams, and Millennials need to find a job. The reality is that everyone stands to benefit from a multigenerational workforce. With 8,000 Boomers retiring each day and Millennials estimated to make up roughly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, the next few years can be a productive time of transformation for organizations. Here are tips from Thomas Phelps, chief corporate strategist and CIO of Laserfiche, to help organizations adopt new technologies and transform existing processes to adapt to an evolving workforce. Phelps speaks frequently on professional development, leadership and mentoring in the workplace.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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