Age Diversity: Generational Gap: GEN X

Age Diversity: GEN X

In the previous posts, I discussed the Matures, continuing the sequence; we met the Baby Boomers, and now I introduce Generation X or GEN X.

Gen X is between 35 and 45 years old, their lives shaped by Watergate, fall of the Berlin wall, the challenger explosion, 1st Gulf war, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Reagan Presidency. They witnessed the inception of home computers, video games, cable TV, and Internet.

Gen X grew up in families where the divorce rates were the highest ever. They were raised mostly in single parent homes, and called ‘latchkeys kids.’ They might understandably exhibit a suspicious attitude and tend not to trust others easily. Change is more or less the rule of their lives rather than the exception.

They feel that the government, church, military, and major corporations deserve their skepticism. The Xers’ attitude is: “There is nothing we can count on in the future, so we’ll focus short term and make sure each day has significance.” That is why they might have difficulty making long term commitments.
They are different from the matures and baby boomers to whom institutions still mean a great deal; Gen X sees institutions as deserving nothing but cynicism.

The Xers have been defined by some as spoiled and characterized by others as unmotivated, self-indulgent and impertinent, but just because they are skeptical about authority and seek work-life balance, doesn’t make them bad. Do you blame them? They have been told that they wouldn’t be as successful as their parents. They are the junior executives, directors and managers in the workplace.

• Famous examples of Gen X: Sarah Palin, Gavin Newsome, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez.

• Musical Era: Madonna, Ricky Martin, U2, Whitney Houston, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Guns and Roses, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and heavy metal bands. They saw the rise and fall of Disco. Gen X is sometimes called the MTV generation.

• Workplace: Reject the die-hard work ethics of their parents, the boomers. Respect talent and achievement over tenure. Value control of their time. They look for a person in whom they can invest loyalty, not a company. They question authority, see rules as flexible, protocol is second as they try to find the fastest ways to results and solutions. They tend to replace face to face meetings with emails to save time.

• Family: Mainly two income families; women entered the workplace in high numbers. Soccer Mom/Dad are expressions used to describe Gen X as parents. They value work-life balance as well as freedom and responsibility. They are cautious with their money and tend to save it.

• Leadership: Rules are flexible, cooperation is more important. They do challenge authorities.

• Culture Ethos: They are the highest educated generation. They accept diversity, being diverse in such aspects as race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They try to have fun, avoid stress and burnout. Their loyalty is to their individual career goals. They change jobs an average of every three years.

• Communications: Want open communication regardless of position, title, or tenure. Communication is casual and direct. They use electronic gizmos. They see long meetings as waste of time, and may be answering emails on their Blackberries during a meeting. Time is money.

• Recognition and motivation: A balance of fair compensation (immediate) and ample time off as rewards is the best way they feel recognized. They can be more motivated if they are told to forget the rules and do things their own way.

• Technology: They started the Internet and are very familiar and comfortable with their PDAs, BBs, smart phones, and laptops. They embrace technology as a way to control their lives

• As a customer: They believe in “prove it to me” and they don’t trust the traditional sales techniques, hard sell or marketing gimmicks. They want options and choices to suit their preferences. They rely more on peer to peer referrals than any other generation. As customers, Gen X are very loyal.

Next comes Gen Y, Diversity starts at home,

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC. – Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G.™ Programs
Diversity& Inclusion in Active Leadership Organizational Growth
(Exchanging Ideas through Conversation)
(818)861 9434

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