Let’s say we’re on a call to discuss a new performance improvement project. One of the first questions I’ll ask you is, “Who is your audience?” You might be able to give me a narrow demographic—age range, reading level, preferences, etc. But increasingly you may find yourself reflecting on a particular role and the multigenerational talent that fill it. Doesn’t this make creating a training solution more complicated?
Well, yes and no. The fact is, almost every workforce today is cross-generational, and our clients are no exception. Primarily we look at three generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials—and, of course, they do bring different backgrounds, preferences, and comfort levels with technology. Do we need to get creative? Sure, but that’s what we do!
These four strategies help us develop solutions that engage learners of all generations:
- Find the common ground. While learners may come from multiple generations, many learning principles still apply across all of them. By identifying and using these commonalities, we can create training that is relevant for all generations. Take one of the basics—WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). What are the WIIFMs for learning and improving performance in a particular role, regardless of generational differences?
- Put the generational differences to work for you. These differences exist, so why not put them to work for you? When we know generational differences are going to be an issue for the audience, we engage SweetRush developers and client team members who represent different generations. By engaging a sampling of the audience up front, we can ensure that the final product appeals to all generations. Is there a way to bring the same collaboration within your team? For example…
- Use a generational training advisory board. One technique we like to use is to develop a training advisory board that reflects the diversity of your learners (age, job type, internal or external learner, and so on). We engage this advisory board throughout key steps in the development process to ensure the final course meets everyone’s needs.
- Create cross-generational work teams. One of the great benefits of cross-generational learners is the opportunity to learn from one another within the context of the learning experience. When developing instructor-led and virtual instructor-led courses, we always look for ways to allow members of each generation to offer their unique contributions—whether it’s sharing lessons learned from 20 years in the field, or explaining how mobile applications can be used to solve real-world problems.
My colleague Erin Krebs has written and spoken about the newest member of the multigenerational team. You can find her Tips for Training Millennials elsewhere on our site—check it out!