MANAGERS must understand the generational stereotypes about Generation X and Y staff so that can address them proactively and lead their teams effectively.
GENERATION X (1965 TO 1980) — SCEPTICAL, WORRIED AND PRO-FAMILY
Gen X-ers are typically in their 30s and 40s and would have worked in the organisation for around 10 to 25 years. They are often stereotyped as sceptics in the workplace who do not trust others easily. They are also wary of organisation-wide changes, new initiatives and additional work projects.
Gen X employees are also perceived as an anxious lot — constantly worrying whether their jobs are growing fast enough to pay the increasing bills and to sustain their families in the long term. They are also worried about job security, personal development and growth opportunities.
Lastly, Gen X-ers are seen to be more pro-family and less pro-business. They appear to prioritise family commitments and obligations over and above their work requirements.
GENERATION Y (1981 TO 2000) — PAMPERED, AMBITIOUS AND UNCOMMITTED
Young Gen Y staff members are generally stereotyped as pampered individuals who demand a lot but contribute very little at the workplace. They need to have constant praise, are unable to take criticism and crack easily when faced with setbacks and failure.
Gen Y-ers are also seen as highly ambitious individuals who have not yet “earned their stripes” but demand instant rewards and a lot of recognition.
Lastly, Gen Y-ers are labelled as being uncommitted workers as they integrate their personal life with work such as updating Facebook and Twitter accounts and replying to WhatsApp messages during working hours. They also avoid staying beyond the official working hours even when they are needed.
Look beyond the labels
To address and overcome generational stereotypes, employers should:
CHALLENGE THE STEREOTYPES
Interact with your staff to get to know them personally and find out the truth for yourself. Encourage others in the team to reject generational stereotypes and mix the team up to foster better understanding. Get everyone in the team to spend more time understanding the differing values, characteristics and motivational factors across generations.
FOCUS ON FINDING SIMILARITIES
Focus on finding the similarities — common goals, experiences, hobbies and interests — between staff from Gen X and Y.
Managers and supervisors can help Gen X staff in these areas:
• Offer better career progression and training opportunities;
• Achieve a better compensation and benefits package; and
• Achieve a better work-life balance between career and family.
• Assign wise mentors and coaching buddies to them;
• Give them meaningful and challenging tasks to stretch them; and
• Expose them to different types of work (both local and overseas).
Spend time and put in more effort to understand your Gen X and Y staff better. You can then lead, communicate and motivate to draw out their best individual and team performances.
Article by Ken Wong, the author of an upcoming book “The Enlightened ProActive Manager: Getting the Best out of Yourself and Your Team”. He is also a certified AEM-Cube® consultant and a certified Emergenetics® associate. For more information about Ken’s workshops, e-mail Cheryl at enquiries@ProactiveTrg.com.