Flipping the switch 6 – Gen Xers

keyboard moneyGeneration X is the little cohort that could. Born between 1965 and 1980, this group numbers only 46 million. Having grown up as latchkey kids, they learned independence and resilience which manifests itself now as independent and resilient employees.

Writes Jay A. Conger, professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and a research scientist, in a 1998 magazine article titled “How ‘Gen X’ Managers Manage”:

 What we are seeing in Generation Xers is a different set of attitudes about the workplace. In a nutshell:

  • They distrust hierarchy.
  • They prefer more informal arrangements.
  • They prefer to judge on merit rather than on status.
  • They are far less loyal to their companies.
  • They are the first generation in America to be raised on a heavy diet of workplace participation and teamwork.
  • They know computers inside and out.
  • They like money, but they also say they want balance in their lives.

 Gen Xers grew up in latchkey homes at ease with technology. They’re self-reliant and impatient, these experts agree. When thousands of their parents were laid off in the early 1990s, Gen X decided company loyalty was a sucker act. Achieving goals is the key, so why should rules matter? Dot-com dollars and digital prowess made job-hopping and success a snap, though nowadays, job security and benefits seem sort of attractive. Their management style is blunt and unadorned, focused on getting the work done, not bonding. Gen Xers are independent, skeptical and flexible — they’re results-oriented.

Environments That Motivate

Try virtual workspaces. GenXer’s grew up with computers and are the first generation to have done so. Their affinity for and ability with virtual workspaces can be capitalized upon. Most businesses are already in that mode, even many shops are far more computerized than ever. Production cabinet shops almost all use CNC machines to process cutting. Many auto body shops use computerized equipment too. Paint is mixed by computers these days, restaurants use POS systems for everything from time clock requirements to ordering to inventory control.

Streamline processes and procedures. With a disdain for process for process’s sake, GenXer’s resist and reject outright bureaucracy when it gets in the way. Their experience with computers had trained them to multi-task and to work at warp speed. Effective moitvators do what they can to remove obstacles and straighten out the curves.

Rewards That Motivate

Show them the money. Unlike their parents who found retirement plans attractive and motivating, GenXer’s are less smitten with them. Now is better. Deferred options just don’t do the trick.

If possible, allow for hours to fluctuate while setting targets for objectives to be reached. Flexibility motivates, options in work hours, working from home via the net is another perk.

Stay technologically current. This is a tall order, I know, since things move so rapidly. Nonetheless, this generation loves technology and are quite adept at it. Be sure to include training in its use and application.

Gen Xers grew up in latchkey homes at ease with technology. They’re self-reliant and impatient, these experts agree. When thousands of their parents were laid off in the early 1990s, Gen X decided company loyalty was a sucker act. Achieving goals is the key, so why should rules matter? Dot-com dollars and digital prowess made job-hopping and success a snap, though nowadays, job security and benefits seem sort of attractive. Their management style is blunt and unadorned, focused on getting the work done, not bonding. Gen Xers are independent, skeptical and flexible — they’re results-oriented.

The benefit of summaries like this one is in the principles outlined. It is always safest to understand that individual attitudes and perspectives vary widely. Leaders and managers increase productivity when they approach employees with broad general concepts but make application according to personal understanding. In the end, people are individuals regardless of their generation. I’ll address how to work with generational mixes next week.

Later this week I discuss GenYer’s. If you are not on the mailing list for The Practical Leader’s newsletter, I encourage you to sign up now. There is no charge and it contains articles and comments not found in this blog. It this month’s issue, which was sent out last Friday, the lead article is “Why Following Your Passion May Not Be a Good Idea.” Sign up now and I’ll see you get that issue too.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail