Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Man Up Gen X!

Recently, I was asked to counsel a group of angry 40-something managers on career advancement. These Generation Xers felt they were caught in between “greedy” Baby Boomers, who won't move over to give their generation a shot, and “entitled” Millennials, who won’t put in a decent day’s work. As a generational expert and specialist on today’s workplace issues, I gave the following advice.

MAN UP GEN X! If you wish Boomers would get out of your way then help them to retool. It’s not that they want to prevent younger generations from advancement. The problem is that many of them don’t know how to move on (to retirement or to more fulfilling careers) and still support themselves, their aging parents and their children. Teach Boomers time management and delegation skills that force them to work smarter instead of more and you will help them reach the other side of the mountain much quicker.

On the flipside, if you want Millennials to “toughen up” you will need to do a better job of managing their expectations. Invest your limited time in beefing up your company’s interviewing, orientation and career development initiatives. Millennials who know what is expected of them and what it takes to get to the next level will surprise you with their productivity and loyalty.

And lastly, Gen Xers, I know you value your autonomy but even you could use a little help. Seek out the training you deserve to boost your communication and leadership skills. And make just a little bit of effort to care at work. Otherwise, you’ll play right into the stereotypes associated with your own generation. Or as the lead Gen X character in the film, Office Space, remarks, “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.”

- Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group

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