Gen Y association professionals want to connect with senior staff but aren’t always able to.
The challenges of intergenerational communication within the workplace have not been well documented in the association world. In 2010, we conducted a survey of our young professional peers, eventually collecting data from 117 respondents who identify themselves as generation Y.
The survey results revealed interesting gaps in communication and a desire for greater interaction between young professionals and senior staff. Of all respondents 35 years old and younger, 30.7 percent indicated that they never have interaction with their CEO or executive director. The survey also yielded a possible explanation for this gap: 51.3 percent responded that they are either "very uncomfortable," "uncomfortable," or "neutral" when it comes to approaching senior staff.
Of respondents who never interact with their CEO, 75.7 percent indicated that they do have a desire for such interaction. Additionally, 66.7 percent desire more involvement with senior staff in problem-solving meetings, committees, and other planning efforts at their organizations.
What works best to close this communication gap? Casual conversation or interactions when approaching a nonurgent deadline could be a first step. Among respondents, 25.4 percent prefer senior staff to initiate those types of interactions, but 78.9 percent also indicated that they would prefer to stop by senior staff members' offices for this type of interaction, so it is important to be approachable as well.
Eliminating the communication gap with senior staff is a great way to keep young professionals in tune with that bigger picture, which will result in greater job satisfaction and contributions to the mission, vision, and values of your organization.
Review the full data set from this survey here [opens as Excel spreadsheet].
Thomas Getchius, Lauren Fernandez, Daniel Pace, Carrie Drake, and Samantha Alvis are graduates of the 2010 ASAE Leadership Academy for Young Association Professionals. Questions regarding this study can be directed to Getchius at firstname.lastname@example.org.