7 Traits of Generation X


Today I want to write about my generation. While the number of Generation Y employees is slowly growing in size in the corporate world, a big portion of the junior and mid management staff are from my generation. Like every generation we believe we are different to the others. No, we are not from Mars, but Generation Xers are dramatically different from the Boomers. Here are the top 7 traits you’re likely to see in a Xers in the workplace.

1. Our approach to authority is casual. It’s not that Xers don’t respect authority; it’s that they are unimpressed by authority. Xers grew up watching many “authority” figures fall from grace. Many also saw their own parents (their first authority figures) divorce. What they witnessed has a definite impact on their views on authority. In Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace, the authors explain that Xers are likely to treat the company president just the way they would the front-desk receptionist.

2. We thrive in a casual, fun work environment. You’d be hard pressed to find a stuffed shirt Xer. Generation X wants an informal and casual workplace. And we’re talking more than Jeans Day once a week. In Generations At Work, the authors report that “Many (Xers) assert that casual days aren’t just a perk: they actually make us work harder and get more done.” Further, the authors of Generations At Work report that “Anything that makes work less “corporate” resonates well with generation X “.

3. Xers are pessimistic when it comes to their future. A survey of Generation X revealed that more Xers believe General Hospital will be around longer than Social Security. Xers have seen massive layoffs and slashes in company benefit plans. They are skeptical about their future and almost no Xer expects to work at one company until retirement.

4. We have a nontraditional approach to time. (Surprise, surprise!) The attitude of many Xers is “As long as I get my work done and do my fair share, what does it matter what time I show up or leave?” Don’t mistake this attitude with “slacking?” Xers grew up in flexible times and they approach everything – even work schedules – with a flexible attitude.

5. Family and work balance is extremely important to Xers. Many Xers grew up in two-income families. And as a result, there was no one waiting at home to bring them milk and cookies. Their parents made many sacrifices, including missing out on school plays and sporting events. Xers are determined to make work serve their lives and not the other way around.

6. Generation Xers tend to be technologically savvy. You’re probably not surprised to learn than that Xers will prefer to hold discussions and make decisions electronically over traditional staff meetings and memos. Xers grew up with GameBoys, microwaves, and VCRs. Technology is second nature to them. While we were not born with technology in our hands (Like Generation Y), we believe we have adapted very well to technology.

7. Workaholism is not a trait you’ll find in many Gen Xers. While it may be common to find a Boomer who is a workaholic, this is not the case with Xers. Their motto is “Get a life!”

If you’ve had challenges understanding, managing, or motivating your Generation X (1965-1976) employees, you’re not alone. Few managers are naturally endowed with the specific skills, strategies, and smarts it takes to manage and motivate this young, unique, complex, and talented generation. If you have a Generation X manager and find it difficult to sometimes understand his style of management, you are not alone. I’ve laid down some tips on managing Generation X and Baby Boomers in my sample Chapter from my book “My Work My Way”. You  can download a copy by visiting my website http://www.myworkmywaybook.com 


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