Gen-X Management

Gen-X management conflictsRay Williams of the Financial Post writes “Gen X will change work culture“. Of this I have no doubt. But I am wondering what our organizations, our institutions will look like 20 years forward, when X and Y have put their stamp on the cultures of traditional organizations.

Studies by Bruce Tulgan (Managing Generation X), Douglas Coupland (Generations X), and Australian company HCM Global Pty. Ltd., show the Generation X manger is typically mature beyond their years, very adaptable and flexible, and team oriented. They have high expectations of employees and don’t buy into power structures, rather they prefer the project-based approach to work. Generation X managers need positive validation for their work or they will not hesitate to quit their jobs. They hate being micro-managed and want independence in their work, which may explain why so many of this generation have turned to entrepreneurship.

Generation X managers’ assets are their adaptability, technological literacy, independence and creativity. Generation X leaders thrive on change, are fair, competent and straightforward — sometimes brutally honest — are results oriented, and see leadership as nothing magical. However, these managers do have liabilities, including impatience (particularly with authority), occasional cynicism and poor people skills. Messages that motivate Generation X managers emphasize independence, reward for merit not years, minimizing rules and bureaucracy, and informality and common sense.

Ding! Ding! Ding! (my highlights, links)

When I read these attributes, and notice my head bobbing like a Bobblehead, I wonder at the face of the future organization. What if we never check these traits that make for strong individual contributors? I would agree that these stereotypes are fairly accurate, and can see challenges down the road when leaders and the led both seek a state of commitment and not just compliance.

  • Are we more likely to see strong contributor organizations working in graceful supply chain dances?
  • Will Gen X find a new respect (with time) for the magic of leadership?
  • How will Gen X leaders secure the necessary buy-in to build lasting enterprises?
  • How will individual Gen X behaviors in management impact issues like turnover and personal growth?
  • Implications for Gen Y staffers, managers?

Hat tip to Management Issues.

This entry was posted in Corporate Culture, Kumquat, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Gen-X Management

  1. Ding, ding, ding – yeah, this hit close to home (as a 35 year old self-employed consultant who quit her corporate job two months ago and is currently wearing an ironic t-shirt and listening to indie rock).

    I’ve wondered about this issue also in terms of how Gen X’ers will be as business leaders, particularly as the Baby Boomers start retiring en masse. Will we repeat the same mistakes as our elders or transform the workplace? (probably a bit of both).

    I’m not interested in climbing the ladder into executive ranks, and many of my smartest and most talented colleagues in my age group feel the same way. But Gen Y seems to be an ambitious group – will they take the challenge on?

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