Millennials, Here Are 5 Ways to Manage Your Gen X Team
Maybe you have just gotten promoted. Perhaps you started a new job. Now, you have a team working under you. Then, you discover among them a 50-something Gen Xer. If you have heard all about the Millennial-Gen X divide, you might begin to panic a little. Don’t.
Your working relationship with your Gen X subordinate need not be awkward or awful. We tell you how you can be a Millennial Boss to your Gen X colleague.
1. Know What Makes Your Gen X Subordinate Tick
Gen Xers are those born between 1965 and 1980, making them 39 to 54 now. They were among the first to grow up with working mothers during an era of an increasingly industrialised Singapore. Left much alone, they are individualistic, resourceful and independent. So, while you value mentoring, constant feedback and collaboration, they want to be empowered to do their job. Since they work well with clearly defined goals and expectations, and are result-oriented, you can trust them to deliver.
They witnessed the advent of the personal computer, Internet and handphone, making them the original tech-heads. Having been in the forefront of so much change, they are also highly adaptable and creative. They were thinking outside the box while you were still playing with boxes. You can motivate them by challenging them to come up with new solutions.
Do not mistake their natural scepticism for an unwillingness to change with the times. They are not afraid to challenge status quo. In fact, they practically invented worklife balance, introducing casual workdays. They prefer emails for pragmatic reasons. Emails can serve as proofs in disputes and allow them to attend to matters at their convenience.
2. Be Aware of Generational Biases
Be aware of generational differences but do not subscribe to generational bias, which is the belief that every other generation is inferior to yours. Just like you do not like to be called the Strawberry Generation – easily bruised; or the Snowflake Generation – an over-inflated sense of uniqueness, do not negatively stereotype the Gen Xers either.
For example, the perception that Millennials prefer virtual meetings, instant messaging and social media while Gen Xers want to stick to face-to-face meetings and emails is untrue. Studies have shown that Millennials are the ones who prefer face-to-face interactions.
3. Build On Your Similarities
Once you look at the Gen Xers closely, you will realise that your generation shares a lot in common with theirs. In a Universum Global Generations Series 2017 study, Gen Xers and Millennials shared very similar values. Both felt becoming a leader was important. Half of each generation worried about their personalities fitting into their workplace. Both generations wanted worklife balance.
4. Make Them Feel Respected & Valued
It cannot be easy on his ego that, after all these years of work, the Gen Xer suddenly has to answer to what he considers a mere child. Respect them and make them feel valued. Sometimes, they are resistant to change not because they are archaic but because they fear being obsolete and are at that stage in life where stability counts for a lot.
Make sure your Gen X team knows they are valuable because they are. In a Korn Ferry survey, 70% of the respondents said they thought that Gen Xers make the most effective managers compared to Millennials or even Baby Boomers. Gen Xers were also considered major revenue generators for any organisation. So, recognise their efforts and reward them accordingly.
5. Be Personal
Whether you are managing your peers or someone older, being personal always works. Get to the know your Gen X colleague. You may be aware of the general characteristics of his generation but individuals vary from each other and from their cohort. Understanding him as a person will make it easier for you to work with him. Helping him understand you will also smoothen your working relationship. In addition, being personal makes it easier for them to give you vital feedback.