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Who Are They? More About the Millennials Sources of Generational Misunderstandings Appreciating
Differences Increased knowledge and understanding of defining events and values of the generational cohorts of clients, students, colleagues, and administrative staff.
Mentoring programs for new faculty and office staff that pair members of different generations.
Appreciation of the strengths of each generation (e.g., the experience of the baby boomer generation or the technological expertise of many of the millennial students).
Explicit discussions with colleagues and staff members about the generations represented in the work setting and the cohort characteristics that may or may not apply to each individual.
Examination of one's own professional and work-setting relationships to determine miscommunications or assumptions being made on the basis of generational differences. Explicit discussions with student supervisees about generational characteristics that may lead to misunderstandings in relationships with clients and supervisors. Awareness of generational stereotyping and use of caution in assuming that members of the same generation display all aspects of the cohort's "collective personality." The use of "respect and carefronting as antidotes to generational conflict" (Kupperschmidt, 2006). ["Carefronting," coined by Augsburger in 1973 and adapted by Kupperschmidt in 1994 to nursing, means "caring enough about one's self and goals to confront in a caring, self-asserting, responsible manner" (Kupperschmidt, 2006)]. Scenarios and Solutions Working Toward a Common Goal About Special Interest Group 11, Administration and Supervision What Would You Do? Scenario 1
In the hypothetical CSD department described earlier, the 60-year-old workaholic baby boomer, supervising the 23-year-old millennial graduate student, is upset that the student has to miss two scheduled treatment sessions because of attendance at a family wedding. The student, on the other hand, who values a work-life balance, plans to make up the missed sessions and wonders why her supervisor seems distant. Possible Solutions
1 -A discussion of expectations and generational differences might have prevented this situation. At the beginning of the semester in a small group or team meeting with her supervisees, the clinical educator might broach the topic of generational diversity and ask each student to research the characteristics of the different generational cohorts. At a following meeting, the group could be empowered to brainstorm ways to appreciate the strengths of each cohort 2 - The supervisor might examine her professional relationship with this student and determine if some of her assumptions (e.g., thinking that the student is being so unprofessional) have been made without consideration of generational differences. She could then confront or "carefront" (Kupperschmidt, 2006) the student about the situation and her feelings and expectations. Scenario 2
When observing a session with the same graduate student and her 70-year-old Traditionalist client, the supervisor hears an overly loud and condescending tone in the student's voice as she gives instructions to the client. The client's wife remarks to the supervisor that the student seems to be interacting with her husband as if he were a child who couldn't hear. The supervisor comments on her written feedback sheet that the student is using "elderspeak" and adds that she will explain more in person. By the time of the supervisory conference the next day, the student had gone online and thoroughly researched the term and even found an article on over-accommodating interactions. Rather than praising the student for her research, the supervisor feels inadequate, having lost the opportunity to demonstrate her expertise to her student. Possible Solutions
1 - Here is an opportunity for the supervisor to demonstrate her appreciation for the technological and innovative strengths of this millennial student. Of course in order for her to do this, she must be knowledgeable about the swift ability of millennials to research online just about any topic. 2 - The supervisor's feelings of inadequacy may be related to the competitiveness of her baby boomer generation, leading her to focus on herself, thereby missing the strengths that the student has demonstrated. With an awareness of her own feelings and generational tendencies she might engage the student in a discussion of generational differences, each sharing her own base of knowledge and experience. In this case the supervisor has the years of experience and understanding while the student has the technological savvy to quickly pull up an online resource. Scenario 3
In this same CSD department tensions exist among the administrative office staff. The staff members from the traditionalist and baby boomer generations resent the new ideas for time management coming from their younger generation X office manager, who does not feel respected by these older staff members. They complain to the department head, also a member of generation X, who has difficulty understanding the expressed resentment. Possible Solutions
1 - To prevent or minimize these office tensions from occurring in the first place, the office manager and department head, both members of generation X, who have been described as practical and resourceful, could meet at the beginning of the academic year, look at the composition of the office staff, and determine what generational strengths each might be bringing to their jobs. The office manager could then schedule a meeting of the entire staff asking each to come prepared with a list of their strengths and how those strengths might be utilized in the work setting. 2 - Once again in this scenario as in the previous two, training for administrators, managers, clinicians and supervisors in interpersonal communication and conflict management is essential to a smoothly run department or speech and hearing center. Understanding that some of the office tensions might be related to generational differences could lead the office manager and department head to reframing the situation from a conflict to an appreciation of the values and skills of each generational cohort. END