A few years ago we were having a debate at the office about how to approach problems. That’s a wide statement, of course. But the conversation was not about how to solve any issue in particular. The discussion focused more on a certain template to our processes, and how that presupposed other things. How we identify problems, whom we assign the resolution to and why we choose one person over another. Like so many things, these decisions are partly determined by our generational perspective. But generations solve problems differently. So do older decision makers need an overall reset?
Millennials have changed the workforce in countless ways. That’s not all bad, of course, and Gen X leaders should embrace Millennial corporate values (some of them, anyway). Millennials have changed the face of companies, literally, with more diverse employees. They’ve changed employee expectations, with more emphasis on things they care about, like CSR efforts and a voice in their career. And they generally have questioned – even rejected — many of the professional norms (read: restraints) around dress codes, organization charts and communication style.
Here are three ways that Gen X leaders should embrace Millennial
Today, the Gen X executive in the digital era faces a lot of challenges, many of which were literally unimaginable when they entered the workforce in the early 1990s. The pressure to manage the ever-expanding suite of social media platforms can itself be overwhelming. But, as daunting as it is, I reassure many who I coach by offering the following perspective. In 1991, I went to Budapest to teach MBA students, senior managers and executive leaders at the first Western business school in what was then Eastern Europe. I worked with leaders from many different countries. The Cold
Jeff Bezos is, at the time of this writing, the wealthiest person in the world. Born in 1964, Bezos is on the cusp of Baby Boomers and Gen X. Some say Gen X started a year or two later, so you can find whichever definition you want to claim him or not. But you can’t deny the changes Amazon has brought to consumers and businesses, and Bezos aside, you can’t deny that Gen X is driving change in organisations more generally. The founders of Google were both born in 1973. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, was born in 1969. Jack
Generation X has always had a PR problem. Hint number one is having no name – the “X” symbolises the marker historically used in lieu of a signature by those who can’t read or write. Given that Generation X is the most educated cohort in America, someone probably should have put up a bit of a fight.
But Xers, also known as the “slacker” generation, were thought to have no real cause, no strong belief system or other unifying identity. And so, like someone who can’t sign their name, their presence has been noted in only the most limited ways.
There are countless articles on the differences in priorities and attitudes across generations, especially in the workforce. Gen Y (or Millennials, as they are often called in the U.S.) is predicted to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Whether one finds the conclusions varying, contradictory or cliché is a matter of debate. But what is overwhelmingly true is that these articles are based primarily, if not exclusively, on the US population. But are global generational differences the same as in the United States, which naturally has its own specific cultural and political references?
As the world