“Great leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them fulfill their potential.” – Steven J. Stowell
Today we complete our series on leading different generations in the workplace.
So far, we have discussed Baby Boomers and Millennials—two of the biggest groups in the workplace. But sandwiched between these two is a generation that is smaller, but just as important: Generation X.
With a mix of creativity, skill, and experience, Generation X’ers, acts as a valuable resource for most organisations and are perfectly poised to take over top leadership positions as the baby-boomers start to retire.
Today we’ll let you in on 5 secrets to help you retain your Generation X talent.
1. Paint the big picture and get out of their way.
Generation X’ers rise to the occasion when given challenging work with strict deadlines and the freedom to complete assignments as they see fit. They don’t particular like being micro-managed (who does?!) and thrive when their managers are supportive but non-interfering. A manager who is grooming a Generation X’er should focus on painting the bigger picture and focus on the quality of the work they produce rather than the way they produce it.
2. Teach them while learning from them.
This generation is less structured in the way they think through problems, which makes them creative problem-solvers. As a manager, try to involve them in brainstorming exercises and decision-making activities for the team. This not only enables you to harness their abilities; but you will also be grooming them to handle complex situations in leadership positions. Generation X’ers are more likely to stay with an organisation that makes them feel relevant and valued. Give them the chance to make real changes and encourage them to get involved. This will go a long way in making them feel needed.
3. Give them something to get excited about.
Generation X’ers have a love of learning and achieving that can act as a strong motivator in the workplace. Provide them with opportunities to learn new skills and develop their talents, as this will help to keep them engaged. Consider providing on-site training, subsidising courses related to their job function or providing them assignments that stretch them intellectually.
4. Play it cool.
Generation X is not big on formal discussions and office politics. Communicate by using informal channels such as email or voicemail rather than a formal sit-down meeting. These individuals—particularly women—often scale back their engagement because they find it difficult to deal with office politics and strict rules. Creating a sociable but genuine work environment is key to retaining this generation and earning their trust in you as a leader and the organisation.
5. Give them an inch… or a mile.
Similar to Millenials, this generation is wary of over-committing to work. One way to retain Generation X’ers is to provide them with the opportunity to telecommute or to have flexible hours whenever possible. Use holiday time and family-oriented rewards to motivate them and empower them to attend to their various responsibilities. Generation X’ers will appreciate a leader who uses the latest technology to draw a balance between reaching deadlines and getting home for dinner. Be that manager, and you will see this generation grow into the pillars that hold your organisation aloft.
Every generation has its needs and quirks that will, in some way, dictate how you interact with them. But it’s just as important to remember that while these ideas generally apply, people are uniquely different. Knowing the generational trends helps us start the conversation, but knowing the person will help us truly build a healthy interaction.
What are your experiences working with or leading Generation X? Do you see them as your future leaders and managers? Contribute to the conversation in the comments section below.