It’s all very well talking about Managing your Millennials, is it not also appropriate that Millennials (those born between 1980/82 and 1995 or thereabouts) learn how to work with Gen X?
Life and work is a two way process, it’s not just about what each individual thinks they are entitled to. It’s a pretty good idea to get on with people and make some effort to understand and communicated better, or what do you think?
Gen X classifies those of us born approximately between 1965 and 1984. X denotes the unknown generation. Taken from Deverson and Hamblett’s 1965 sociology book on British youth, Generation X. The Gen X philosophy is about leading people which means taking people with you. Following is a voluntary activity, you follow something or someone because there is something in it for you.
John C Maxwell in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership sums leadership up as being ‘influence – nothing more, nothing less’.
Warren Bennis defines leadership as ‘a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues and taking effective action to realize your own leadership potential.’
Gen X has a set of values, the most important of which is Emotional Intelligence. Many of this generation grew up in a time when their mothers were going out to work and working long hours (the film ‘Made in Dagenham’ typifies the experience these mothers and families had). This generation was introduced to the home computer (Commodore 64 or the Sinclair ZX 80 being prime examples), as well music videos and the in the UK the general downturn in manufacturing and the shift to service industries.
Gen X learned to be more self-sufficient because Mum was not always at home when they finished school. The first generation of so-called latch-key kids. This leads them to like others to go and think about how to do something, then to get it done. Even if the others get things wrong the majority of Gen X will be pleased that you have tried (there are always exceptions). Gen X may come across as sceptical at times.
This generation was brought up to question, brought up with more readily available resources than their parents ever had. The change in their lives was proportionately as monumental at the time as it is now for millennials.
Gen X is a more sceptical generation, which does not mean that they don’t accept change so easily, it does mean they question more; they give the benefit of the doubt. All the above means they value trust and may take more time to trust others. They also value long working hours because they experienced their parents working long hours and they are programmed to believe this is the ‘right way’ to do things.
People of this generation like to understand, they will question and will seek to understand. Trust works both ways. Gen X will trust you, if you trust them.
Gen X is results driven, but not overly competitive and not loyal to any particular company, be that in respect of brands, in purchasing or employment. They will however not change job as often as millennials, but more frequently than previous generations (there will always be exceptions).
Due to the fact that this generation probably experienced both parents working long hours (or one being absent) a good work/life balance is important to them. They like to work hard and play well, but they believe that play comes as a result of hard work and not that work is there merely to facilitate play. At work Gen X will appreciate enthusiasm, willingness to try things out and to discuss.
In brief Gen X likes equally to get on with things as well as to consider and analyse. They are goal oriented and focussed on achievements. They are good at relating to others, at ‘standing in others’ shoes’ (mostly). They value their own territory of responsibility and when needed will work together with others. They appreciate an understanding of others and how they are thinking and feeling (they don’t always get that right, because unless they have truly learned to understand others from the other person’s point of view, they only understand how they themselves would feel).
As a manager or leader they find it easy to create a vision, they may benefit from skills for getting others such as millennials or those Baby Boomers to follow Gen X. They are interested in other people and will name them by name, unless their environment forces them to look on staff as a cost allocation. They like their own territory of responsibility and work well together with others for short periods of time. They can both act and consider.
So how would Gen X like to be communicated with? They are happy with evolution and revolution. They like to hear that things are more, better, less, same except, evolving, with a smattering of new, totally different, completely changed, switch. Although some of that will depend on the working environment and local, and regional and country culture. They will change jobs or responsibilities or departments sometimes very three years, more often every five to seven years.
More next time on Baby Boomers and some ideas of how you can improve things at work. Or if you’d like to know more faster, please take a look at my LinkedIn profile and some of the Slideshare presentations on my Summary there, as well as previous articles or contact me Rosie O’Hara via the Developing Works website, or via my Coaching Website tel. +44 (0) 7796 134081 (What’sApp as well), +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004. And please comment on this blog too.