All posts by Stacy Nelson

Trainer QA

How do I bridge the generational gap at work?

We work in a three-generational workplace. Each generation is different and we often struggle to dialogue well across generations. What tips do you have to bridge this gap in our crucial conversations?

First let me compliment you in attempting to proactively seek ways to bridge this “generational gap.” Many people have just assumed that the gap is too great or too much trouble. So thanks for taking the time to make this inquiry!

You might be interested to learn that VitalSmarts conducted a study early last year called: The Great Generational Divide. This study showed that unaddressed resentment between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials saps productivity by as much as 12 percent. You can see the results of the study here:

Let me make a couple of observations and suggestions to add to these very helpful insights on attempting to engage in dialogue across this generational divide.

It has been said that conflict is inevitable, but resentment is optional. We often encounter conflict because our background, our education and experiences differ so greatly. But how we choose to handle these conflicts can either lead to talking it out or acting it out.

Start With Heart

The greatest skills and strategies designed to bridge these generational gaps will fail if our heart, or motive is not continually focused on the larger picture of finding a way to connect with the other person. This is an exercise in emotional maturity. In the midst of high stakes, opposing opinions, and strong emotions, can we find a way to change the motives of avoiding or attacking to those of listening and learning? Can we come to these generational encounters with a heart of genuine curiosity to learn about others, to lean into their reality and seek first to understand their world?

Once you’ve paid attention to your heart and adjusted your motive, the following skills from this research study will serve you well:

1. Make it safe. Begin by clarifying your respect as well as your intent to achieve a mutual goal.
2. Start with the facts. Describe your concerns facts first. Don’t lead with your judgments about others’ age or conclusions as to why they behaved the way they did. Start by describing in non-judgmental and objective terms the actual behaviors that create problems.
3. Don’t pile on. If your colleague becomes defensive, pause for a moment and check in. Reassure him or her of your positive intentions and allow him or her to express concerns.
4. Invite dialogue. After sharing your concerns, encourage your colleague to share his or her perspective. Inviting dialogue will result in greater openness.

Trainer QA

What if the other person refuses to open up?

When trying to commit to seek mutual purpose, what if the other person refuses to open up and share his or her meaning to find and/or create a mutual purpose?

It can be difficult when the other person seems to be holding back what it is they really want. There are a couple of things you might keep in mind when dealing with this situation.

Sometimes the refusal to open up is a sign others are not feeling safe Finish Reading

Trainer QA

What are some ways I can further participants’ learning after the training?

Stacy Nelson 

Stacy Nelson is a Master Trainer and Senior Consultant at VitalSmarts.


Q What are some ways I can further participants’ learning after the training?

AThanks for the great question. Helping participants gain as much learning and application as possible is always the goal of any training. However, as a recent Wall Street Journal article suggests, this is not usually the case. The article reports that with “little follow-up or meaningful assessments, some 90% of new skills are lost within a year.” So what are some practical things that can be done?

Let me make a couple of suggestions that move beyond just follow up. Could it be that the intended effect of training is really a function of three major phases of training?

  1. Preparation for training.
  2. The training event.
  3. Follow-up and follow through.

Due to limited space and time let me briefly talk about preparation and follow-up, with a brief reference to training.

Avoid “blind training”! Too often, employees are “sent” to training because this is a “good seminar and they will benefit from it.” So they are already psychologically at risk. If, however, an employee were to meet with their manager before the training and talk about a development plan and how some of the skills and tools from the training could be helpful, the employee can view the training in the larger context of growth and development. This should be a joint plan. Help the employee become both the scientist and the subject as they look at potential career limiting/enhancing habits. Look for crucial moments and vital behaviors. Also set the expectation that there will be a brief post training review after the training event.

One of the ways to deepen the impact of training is to customize the deliberate practice or “structured rehearsals.” Rather than using just those found in the toolkit, you can also gather typical situations that employees may encounter and put them into a structured rehearsal. We have found that this can have a significant impact on deepening the application.

Follow-up and Follow through
The basis of all education is repetition. One of the strategies that you might set up at the end of training is a deliberate practice plan. Challenge each participant to break up the training into small parts. Have them read one chapter in the book, listen to the corresponding audio CD, review the matching section in the toolkit, and work on the skills outlined on the cue card. Give participants two weeks to accomplish these tasks. Then in the following two weeks, have them read the next chapter in the book etc., until they have moved all the way through the material.

To create a simple system of accountability, have each participant pass around his or her toolkit to every other individual in his or her table group. Each person will put his or her name and e-mail address in the toolkit. Next, appoint a table captain who is responsible to send out an e-mail in two weeks, checking back with the participants on their assigned duties. It seems that group accountability is often more motivating than partner accountability.

While there are a number of other post-training and review ideas, we believe that if there were more intentional pre and post planning, the overall skill effect would be much more significant.