As a Gen Xer, I can say that I don’t like being lumped into a group of people that the media has widely reported is “self absorbed,” “unwilling to pay dues, “ and “woefully lacking loyalty and work ethics.” These stereotypes do little to motivate us.
As a firm that is committed to growing in the future, you will be working with Generation X. The good news is that there are a lot of really good people out there that just happen to also be Gen Xers. BUT, you are going to have to understand that they didn’t grow up in the same world that you did and they look at business a little differently. Times have changed.
A research project, A Generational Xchange: A Guide to Managing and Mentoring Generation X, was commissioned by Deloitte & Touche and The Corporate State. The study found that Gen Xers are entrepreneurial by nature and act more like independent contractors. Gen Xers are hard working and committed to companies; however, they aren’t as loyal as their older counterparts. Some of this may be due to seeing their parents downsized or laid off after working very hard for a company for many years.
So to manage and retain Gen Xers, the study found that what they crave most is stability and structure. At the same time, they want flexibility to bend the rules a little. Mentoring also is important to them. They will go outside the corporation if they don’t find it inside their organization. Possibly because they grew up in an information age, they want to learn, take responsibility and sharpen their professional skills on a regular basis. Gen Xers also want to be valued. The study recommends giving them short-term rewards and recognition to assure them they are valued.
Are we really that different?