Hello, Xers! You guys were latch-key kids, born between 1965 and 1980, and comprise the smallest of all generational cohort groups. You are self-reliant, independent, flexible, adaptable, and want to work to live, not live to work. You don’t want empty praise – you want genuine respect for the value you contribute.
Often you are the children of divorced parents, mothers who had returned to the workplace, single-parent households; or both of your parents were at work and no one was home to raise you. You learned to fend for yourself and fight your own battles. You came home from school, saw the note to get dinner from the oven, to do your homework, go play and be back by 5:00. And you did.
Now, you are in the workforce and do not want to be told what to do. You do not want a helicopter boss hovering over you and curtailing your independence. If your older boss (boomers and busters) whine, you will walk. You are not interested in repeating what your elders did — work unhappily at the same company for 35+ years.
You want to know that your work matters. You want to be in on the workings of the company, invited to the round tables, be part of decision-making and contributing solutions as equals. But often your job does not permit collaboration and creative input. If you feel skeptical, don’t allow it to become cynical, because that will not effect change. What will improve a work ethos is:
Seeking departments and like-minded coworkers/colleagues with whom you can collaborate
Expressing to the chain of command your needs, wants, and feelings. If you feel your boss is not hearing you, ask for a formal meeting with her/him. Once you have the ear of the higher-ups, ensure that they understand your passions, your purpose, the contributions you can and want to make. Prove to them that you are a self-starter. If something goes awry, convince them through the quality of your work that you will adjust and move forward.
Negotiating with your employer to forgive college debt in lieu of a salary raise or bonus.
Using appropriate language. All the different generations are accustomed to different kinds of language use. It is important to communicate in an appropriate way, tailored to the generation you are talking or writing to. For example, if you are writing a report that will be read by a boomer, do not use texting symbols or slang, LOL!* Don’t be sloppy, do your homework, be appropriate with whomever you are corresponding with.
Just as you want to be understood, you’ll need to be understanding and compassionate with peers and supervisors. We’re all learning partners together, and each of us has valuable insights to teach and learn. HTH and GL!*
*translation for those of a certain age: LOL=Laughing out loud; HTH=Hope This Helps; GL=good luck.