Dear Generation Xers,
Thank you for being a trailblazer. Every new generation introduces new ideas that help those who follow them not be totally lost.
Although your generation may be small and you are often dubbed the “middle child” of baby boomers and us millennials, we need you. You have been placed in the middle of two generations known for their size and the changes they are making in the workplace, but you are just as important.
Right now, you are in the trenches of your profession. You have worked diligently to climb your chosen career ladder and you are finally getting to reap some of the benefits. However, you are finding yourself in a strange position. Being Generation Xers, you are not the most experienced in the office and you’re not the youngest. The newbies (we Millennials) are coming in to the workplace and switching things up. Some say Millennials are wrecking the ecosystem that you have finally adjusted to. (And being a Generation Xer, you probably didn’t complain about it.) We just want to be a part of the team.
If you are finding yourself frustrated with the Millennials in your office, here are a few suggestions:
1. Capitalize on your independence, but recognize our need for team projects. As Gen Xers, you are known as the latch-key kids, since the divorce rate and single parent homes skyrocketed during your adolescence. At a young age, many of you came home from school to an empty house and had to fend for yourself until your parent(s) got home from work. This has made your entire generation in various ways more independent than Baby Boomers and Millennials. By showing how you can independently get your work completed, the Millennials around you are able to watch and learn from a different working style.
However, keep in mind that Millennials were often encouraged to work in groups at school. Understanding the differences in generational upbringings can help you better work with your younger colleagues.
2. Implement multi-generational groups. You are the generation that can bridge the Baby Boomers to the Millennials. Taking the time to implement organization- or department-wide multi-generational brainstorming groups can help every voice be heard. Millennials and Baby Boomers are more likely to welcome this invitation from Gen Xers since they are closer to your age.
3. Be vocal and let your Millennial coworkers know how the organization has been running and the changes you have seen implemented during your time there. By explaining the transformations you’ve seen, you are showing you are aware and open to necessary adjustments to help promote growth in the workplace.
Gen Xers, I am sorry if you often feel lost in the generational shuffle. You are seen and needed. We Millennials look up to you and your incredible work ethic. Don’t give up on us yet! Our time is coming to better understand your position as Gen Z workers start entering the labor market: I bet they’ll give us a run for our money and question our approach, like Millennials have challenged your generation. As they say, “What goes around comes around.”