I am a proud Gen Xer. Born in 1975, I have a fond appreciation of the 80’s and 90’s. I am part of the independent generation that said, “if we are going to be successful I guess we are just going to have to figure this out on our own.”
Sandwiched between the “Me” generation of the Baby Boomers and the “Needy” generation of the Millennials, there are few of us Gen Xers, and the world is shifting into our hands. However, as Boomers age out of positions of authority, our power grab is sure to be short-lived.
For every one Gen Xer, there are six Millennials and six Boomers. The market will not focus on us. We will be easily overlooked and dismissed for the economic boons the other two generations provide companies.
However, we are aging into positions of authority and must recognize how to best utilize Millennials as employees. Currently, they are the fastest growing segment of employees in our country.
Another name for Millennials is Generation Y. Why? Because Y follows X, duh.
Gen Y is fitting though, because they are unique in their inquisitive spirit. When they come to a job they do not want to just know HOW to do a job, they want purpose and intent for their work. Simply put, they want to know WHY they are doing their job.
Gen Xers who want to find significance and long-term vitality in the upper echelons of the business world need to learn how to leverage the inquisitive spirits of these young whippersnappers.
If you are a Gen X leader, remember your drive to be successful and to just figure “it” out (whatever the it was). Millennials are still learning that skill. They will get there. In the meantime, teach the WHY when you train your new employees before you teach the HOW. Begin by explaining why their work contributes to the larger goals of the organization. In doing so, you will capture the creative spark they offer. If you only focus on the technical “How” aspects of the job, you will continually find yourself with an employee more focused on life outside of work than an employee interested in a job well done.
Also, don’t be hasty to criticize these robust up and comers. They will be an asset one day. Boomers once criticized us, as did their parents. But we are saints compared to the needs of Millennials. They too will bring worth and significance in comparison to the needs of Generation Z. We need their expertise and they need our gumption.
I am proud to be a Gen Xer. And I am proud to lead my millennial counterparts into the greatest era of human history.
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