Chamber hears of Generational Challenges

By David Taylor

With more than three decades of experience in the funeral and cemetery industry, Bella Dion leads the staff at Sterling-White Funeral Home in Highlands and discussed her joys working with multiple generations of employees—and challenges.

Dion is the managing partner of Sterling-White having arrived just over a year ago. She graduated from the mortuary service program from College de Rosemont in Montreal and continued her education at College de Granby earning a degree in business administration and accounting. She has also completed her MBA at Texas Western University and serves as an ambassador for the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce.

“When I talk about my team, which I’m super proud of, we are made up of five generations,” she said. “Our staff members ages range from 19 to 86 years old.”

Dion said at times it creates challenges with different communications, but she has found ways to learn together and make it a family.

Dion gets plenty of communication practice at home.

“My husband is a boomer, I’m a Gen X, my oldest is a Millennial, and my youngest is a Gen Z,” she laughed.

Dion broke down the different categories of generations she deals with daily into the traditionalist (68 and up), baby boomers (57 to 77), Gen X (42 to 56), millennials (26 to 41), and Gen Z (25 years and younger).

“Every generation has amazing things to bring to the table,” she said.

Technology is also a divider with traditionalists having lived through the radio, television, 45’s and LP’s, to 8-tracks, cassette tapes, to CDs to the internet and social media.

Through all of that, each generation has their own requirements from the employer.

“Gen Z employees will want you to give an instruction and be prepared to explain why it’s important or how it fits into the bigger picture. Interestingly, they will also research your company to make sure you’re ethical and provide justice, inclusion, and equity,” she said.

Millennials, she said, are result oriented, having grown up with report cards with stickers and stars, always seeking clarity and craving feedback.

“Gen Xers are interesting. They like to work independently. Give them the task and let them run with it,” she said.

Boomers were raised in an atmosphere of you work hard, you get compensated for it, she described it.

“The silent generation respects authority and has a need to know clearly who’s in charge and makes sure their roles are clearly defined for them,” Dion said.

Bringing the team together that’s diverse means talking about the different generation and other variables such as cultural background, communication style, and personality, she said.

“The best advice I can share is to know your people. What motivates them? How do they prefer their communication?” she suggested.

Her employees meet every morning for a short, 10- minute huddle so each person can share what they have going on and communicate what’s important for them that day.

“Sometimes on Friday I cook breakfast or pickup something for them,” she said. “On Mondays during our standup, I ask them to share at least one fun thing they did over the weekend.”

Dion said it doesn’t have to be something grand but encourages them to communicate and build a team atmosphere with one another.

1 Comment

  1. She’s been a great boss and asset to our office. She works and interacts great with all us different ages and personalities.

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