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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Generations of service


I recently took part in some training, and they compared the four generations that are currently in the workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, all working together and the struggles with communication that occur daily. It is a lot to think about when you compare the different generations and you start to realize just why there is a communication blockade.

“We are going to have a meeting.” That phrase alone can mean differences that reflect night and day when an employee hears it and prepares for what might happen. The Traditionalist will expect a face-to-face conversation in a board room, with others taking notes and responding when called upon. This meeting would not be surprising if it took two to four hours to complete.

The Baby Boomer, going to the same meeting, more than likely would take notes but expect only those directly involved to be present, and maybe the boss would be phoning in his requests from home or vacation.

Gen X will only attend for about an hour. They will have laptop in hand and be multi-tasking while the meeting goes on. They themselves may be at home during the meeting but the conference call works just fine for them.

The Millennial will be on the phone the entire time, texting and taking notes. They will give you about 15 minutes of their time but they feel this meeting is a waste of time and want to get back to work. Just send me the notes of the meeting later via my email.

These four generations are currently working together. Yes, there are a just a few Traditionalists out there still, and the Baby Boomers are about to cash in as a mass exodus is about to take place. Gen X is about to take over, but they have thought they were in charge the whole time anyway. The Millennials are already looking for the next place to wander to and start over again. This is where the future lies. With the youngest generation, they just want to get in, get the job done and get off to the next adventure. The Millennials want to be the best but have a hard time getting the job done to get there. And here we go.

There was a time when we learned from the Traditionalist and the Baby Boomer, but somewhere along the line technology took over and we started to believe we did not need them if we had the internet and training videos. But something was lost in the transition: conversation and service.

Ask any grandma, and they will tell you that they have a hard time having a conversation with their grandkids, who seem distracted, whose minds seem displaced from the current situation. It is more than just the 50-plus years between them. There is a communication gap, and that gap is a learned behavior.

We see it mostly in the community service going on around us. Ever notice that the same people seem to be doing all the community service? Yes, the schools are trying, making it a graduation requirement to give back to your community; but it was not a requirement in the past; it was how things got done. If you consider the history of our area, it is chock full of patriarchs and matriarchs who volunteered time to build these towns from the dust up — schools, businesses and utilities, mostly built over time by volunteers and willing neighbors who just wanted to make life better for others around them.

We still see that from time to time today, but it is a dying trait and being phased out just like the Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers, but there must be a conversation had with the other two generations and the new fifth generation that is just about here, Generation Z. (I think the Z stands for Zombie.) We need to start showing them what loyalty and community service looks like, what working for the goal looks like, and what working together really is. For the good of us all.

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