How to Work with and Lead Generation X

The first generation to insist on work-life balance, this group, born between 1965 and 1980, included more women, as well as men who took on more domestic and family responsibilities. Not surprisingly, Generation X was also the generation that pushed for parenting benefits and the support of stay-at-home parents. This generation was the first to rely heavily on technology.
After watching their parents and older siblings get laid off or fired by an increasingly disloyal American company, Generation X has brought free agency to the workplace. What does “free agency” mean? Consider the mathematical analogy. It was customary for a high-ranking athlete to play his entire career for one team. Magic Johnson and Dan Marino are just two examples. But these days, these athletes are in the minority. More and more athletes are following the money. At the same time, the perks they are playing for are quick to trade or cut players. Loyalty died in sports, and in many ways, it died in business, too. Cradle-to-grave recruitment has been replaced by self-employment agency. Employers no longer offer the same long-term benefits and security to their employees, and employees are rushing to leave work to follow their boss, pursue a new opportunity, or stay home to raise their children.
Caught between baby boomers and millennials, Generation X workers are experiencing growing turmoil. As their Baby Boomer predecessors delayed retirement (or pulled out altogether), Generation X members were denied advancement opportunities. The Great Recession of 2008-2009, which led to fewer growth opportunities, worsened their situation. And of course, there are millennials—soon to be the largest demographic in the workforce—breathing in the neck of Generation X. No wonder many Gen Xers, who often view their younger colleagues as spoiled, lazy, and receiving so much attention, feel stuck with nowhere to go! However, they represent the next generation of top leaders. Discovering how to attract, develop and engage Generation X will be key to the success of any organization.

How to attract and hire the tenth generation
Members of Generation X have been frustrated with their career advancement – ​​or lack thereof. Hit by a deep and painful stagnation, Generation X is waiting for its next big opportunity.
In the coming years, money will be more of a driver for Generation X than its Boomer and Millennial counterparts. More than any other generation, Generation X has borne the brunt of the meltdown in the mortgage industry, and many still owe more to their homes than those homes are worth.
Fairness is also important for Generation X. Many GMs feel the cards are stacked against them, and they look for an opportunity to flatten the score – at least financially. (Perception of injustice is a major driver of the disengagement.) Other attractions of this group include technology, benefits (after all, they are the ones to give birth to now), and opportunities for development.
How to train the tenth generation
Training is important for the tenth generation. It’s all about development opportunities. When training people of this generation, keep the following in mind:
Include lots of individual activities and reports. As with Boomers, it is important to build workouts and experiential activities into coaching opportunities. However, unlike their Boomer predecessors, Gen Xers are still looking to prove themselves and eager to show their stuff. It’s a good idea to give Gen X members opportunities to co-lead training, take the lead in reporting, and shine in front of their peers. “Teaching others” is the best way for people to learn. Gen Xers are set up to take the lead in teaching others while enhancing their learning during training events.
You have more than one solution for case studies. Now more than ever, Generation X wants to be heard, seen, and given a chance to make their own mark. When pressed between two big generations, Generation X has ideas and wants to share them. If you expect Generation Xers to follow suit or go along with what is tried and true, you risk disengaging them and missing out on an important learning opportunity. Best-in-class organizations combine their high potential (often disproportionately made up of Generation X) and invite them to take on regulatory challenges, explore new markets, or assess the business case to expand their product offerings.
Align training with the company’s mission. Members of Generation X are similar to members of other generations in that their training time can be better utilized if they see a “line of sight” between the time needed to train and the training relationship to the overall mission of the company.
Allow participants to provide feedback during the training session. While Boomers are more comfortable providing feedback after a training event, Generation X members are more “instant” in their willingness (and willingness) to provide feedback about the training they receive. Consider “real-time” quality improvement for your training program.

How to engage the tenth generation
If you are tasked with engaging Gen Xers, keep these points in mind:
Don’t pile on them. The boom may be driven by heavy workload, but the opposite is often true for Generation X. Instead, independence and free agency are the passwords for Generation X. their jobs.

Avoid meetings. Generation X was the first generation that grew up with technology. As a result, members of this group often prefer communicating via email rather than attending meetings.
Flexibility is the key. Although some seniors perceive that they work less, Gen Xers usually make up for the time they spend attending a children’s play or soccer match by working at nights or weekends.

Offer training and development opportunities. At the moment, the people of this generation are completely career-oriented. They see themselves in the next row to take over. But with older workers staying in the workplace, Generation Xers may grow impatient. To keep them engaged, you have to make them feel like they are learning and growing. Thus, training and development are two big drivers of participation in this group.

Are you looking to attract more General Xers (and millennials) and bring them into your company? Use the paper in the figure to jot down what you’re doing now in terms of CSR, workforce flexibility, innovation, task rotation, and branding, and what you can do in each of these categories.
work-influence-gen-x
How do you reward the tenth generation
Here are some rewards that can help motivate Generation X members:
Time Out: Gen X brought the concept of work-life balance to the workplace, and today they are of the age where they are working parents with dual responsibilities. Companies must occasionally offer the option of a cash bonus, vacation benefit, or enhanced leave.

Professional Development Opportunities: GMs see themselves as next in line and often hungry for necessary extended assignments, an executive education course, job transfer, or any other opportunity to advance their personal and professional development.

Quick Promotions: Early in their careers, it was common for Boomers to wait their turn for a promotional opportunity. For example, in an engineering company, project managers were required to have ten years of experience. Generation X — and millennials, for that matter — won’t wait a certain number of years for a promotion, and they shouldn’t. Instead of “taking their time,” they will simply stop and go somewhere else. Accelerating Generation X in extension missions will go a long way toward engaging this generation.

Technology Upgrades: Generation X grew up with technology and is an expert in technology. If a General Elixir saddled with yesterday’s technology, it would become a nuisance. Giving Gen Xer a laptop (instead of a desktop) may not in and of itself make him feel good, but if you don’t, you will feel miserable. In other words, the technology may not be critical to Gen Xers’ participation in general, but not having it could lead to their withdrawal.

Participation on a Prestigious Committee: If Gen X represents the next generation to lead your company, why not ask these employees to lead the next strategic planning committee or any other high-profile organizational subcommittee? Not only will this help engage them, but you’ll also benefit because their visions are different from those of their Boomer predecessors.

Opportunities to Present to the Senior Leadership Team: Want to engage a high-potential General Elixir? Ask him to attend—or better yet, to attend—the next board meeting, the monthly off-site meeting of the senior management team, or the monthly executive leadership team meeting. Applying to bosses would be very attractive to high-potential General Xers.