In the past year I have seen growing discontent with the focus on generations either in media, training or general discussions. “Why do we talk so much about the generations, especially the Millennials,” many people have begun to ask. Or I’ve heard, “This is a sham, another way to put complex people into simplified boxes.” I can’t say I completely disagree with these arguments. People are amazingly complex with many beliefs, different personalities and various values.
Even though this is GrowingMillennialLeadership.com, it’s also important for us to look at other generations and understand what makes them tick and why they are the way they are. I have a Gen-X friend and colleague who likes to give me a hard time for posting so much about Millennials. So for him, and all of you ‘latchkey’ kids out there (including my older brother), this one’s for you.
As we have with other generations let’s explore some of the characteristics (both labeled and self-induced) of Gen-X. Remember, generations are more defined by life’s events that occurred during their forming years, then the actual dates in which they were born. As historian Robert Wohl put it, “historical generations aren’t born; they are made.” Gen-X, born approximately between 1965 -1980, have been labeled pragmatic, lazy, rebellious, pessimistic, able to take a punch, single, and solitary. Unlike the size of Baby Boomers (80 million) and Millennials (94 million), Gen-X has just about 46 million members, making it a dark horse demographic. They are the middle child of two larger generations and are often labeled the “forgotten generation.”
In this episode generations expert Matt Harrington takes a look at what makes a generation an actual generation. When we talk generations in the workplace or in our personal life we often look at the age or the two points in time the group of people were born into. Instead we should be looking at what took place during that generation, especially in their formative years, that now defines their outlook on the world and the way they think others should act. There are also other tips and tactics in the episode discussed when talking about generations. Enjoy!
One of the biggest challenges we run into when we work with organizations is that GenX does not have the fundamental competency and skill set to think strategically for the organization. This isn’t a slight at GenX; I don’t believe the organizations have prepared them well nor have organizations invested the necessary resources for GenX to be where they need to be at this stage of the game. Whether in meetings or on the shop floor or helping prep for a presentation, we find that many GenXers have a tendency to stay at an operational, 10,000 foot thinking capacity.
In this post-recession business world, we need to prepare our organizations for a huge transfer of leadership and knowledge to new leaders that are ready and competent to close the gap. The looming issue for our workforce and our organizations is that Gen-X and Millennials don’t like each other quite frankly.