Talk Boutique is excited to welcome Dr. Mary Donohue to the roster! Mary is a generational behaviourist, researcher, entrepreneur and author who teaches others how to have a better work/life balance.
One-on-One With Mary
What is the most common mistake you see organizations making when they are communicating across different generations?
We’re communicating as if we’re in an analog world when we’re actually living in a digital world.
It all goes back to Dr. Marshall McLuhan. What we drew from his research is that for each generation the media presented a very different message because generations process information differently through technology. This is causing a variance in the understanding of communication between generations – a communication gap.
Do you have a favourite example of a company you’ve helped overcome a generational communication challenge?
Mark Tinnerman, a portfolio manager who runs a family office in Toronto, was struggling to understand how to connect with his multigenerational team and grow revenue. Within his team, communication suffered from lack of clarity, so members had to make assumptions about what they were to do. Inaccurate, and hasty messages were limiting the ability of his team to provide original and competitive solutions for clients, and this was impacting income. Mark’s team was suffering from a lack of creativity, defined in today’s modern workplace as how we express our ideas and function as a team member.
We provide clients with tools to identify their Generational Workplace Profile and the profile of their teams. Then, utilizing Office 365, we demonstrate how to make use of our Generational Anchoring Benchmarks to leverage the right application to connect with the right generation for the right outcome. We found in using this system that communication gaps can be narrowed through understanding and empathy around generational anchoring moments, defined as experiences that help people frame problems, solutions and encounters. Once our clients began to use Generational Anchoring Benchmarks in the modern workplace, productivity rose and creativity increased 11% in 16 weeks. Mark’s team saw sales rise 40%, and this new communication approach is still being utilized one-year post-program.
Your talks assist leaders in understanding how different generations process and present information. What was your source of inspiration for this topic?
During a client meeting at Walmart, on very hot day in Arkansas, Jabo Floyd one of the best leaders I have ever had the privilege to work with asked me this question – he wanted to know why he and some of his managers weren’t connecting with Millennials. Why were they working differently? What had changed so dramatically in 30 years?
Jabo runs the world’s largest distribution centres for Walmart DC. He is a 30-year veteran and he knows how to get things done.
I told Jabo I would find out. It began to puzzle me: if the largest company in the world was having difficulty communicating with Millennials, who else was experiencing the same problem?
Turns out Walmart was the canary in the coal mine for me.
Since that conversation, I began to wonder what if we started to look at communication as a system rather than just a behaviour we learn from others. What if we rethought how we teach communication, particularly for business? It’s been done before, and maybe it was time to do it again.
And so we did, and if our work that we presented at the NYT summit is any indication…
— NYTLive (@NYTLive) February 13, 2018
With nearly ¾’s of the workforce not feeling engaged at work, can you describe what you think is required for building employee loyalty and value?
The answer lies in building a creative culture. Culture is more important now than ever before.
As Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast every time.” The trick is to build a creative culture that is productive and innovative by identifying the differences in generational communication styles. Then, through technology, you can increase the quality of your communication and reduce the variance in communication that negatively affects culture in the form of lack of creativity and disengagement.
About Mary Donohue
Dr. Mary Donohue is North America’s leading social scientist focusing on building employee loyalty, value, and engagement with her Generational Problem Solving Systems™.
Dr. Donohue designs communication training that provides people with a roadmap to achieve a better work/life balance. She is a world-renowned speaker and TEDx presenter, television personality and columnist. She regularly speaks around North America in corporate and public settings. Her corporate clients include Walmart, TD, BMO, American Airlines, Kaiser Permanente, OLD, to name a few. She is the founder of Donohue Learning, Fortune 500’s choice for high-impact generational learning that drives productivity and inclusive behavior. In 2015, she was named as one of the 18 Outstanding Women in Tech and Diversity MBA’s top 50 under 50. Her work appears in the Huffington Post and Financial Post.
Interested in having Mary speak at your next event? Contact us today and we can help!
You might also be interested in learning about Lisa Taylor and Stephen Friedman. Lisa is a workforce researcher, futurist and the author of Retain and Gain: Career Management for Small Business. Stephen is a behavioural psychologist and leadership expert who teaches organizational behaviour, human resource management, leadership and strategy.