Generation X: What You Need to Know

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in 4 Generations at Work, VPI Blog

Generation X












Are you a Generation Xer and experiencing communication challenges with Millennials, Generation Z, or Baby Boomer colleagues or employees? Curious to learn what has motivated and influenced the work styles of your Generation X colleagues? Check out these insights into Generation X:

Generation X’s Expectations About Delegation & Management

As the first generation of latch-key kids, parents gave Generation Xers the creative latitude to get things done at home. They expect the same from their employees and colleagues. They make projects their own and they expect to set deadlines and make expectations clear. Tensions abound when Gen X feels micro-managed. Generation Xers prefer to honor the decided-upon definition of success confident they have the skills to accomplish the goal. Generation X has these same expectations as managers and leaders.

Their experience of being latch-key kids resulted in Generation Xers growing up with autonomy and becoming fiercely independent. “Whether it was learning to cope with the neighborhood bully or sweet-talking our parents into letting us stay home alone while they went on vacation,” Generation Xer, Alexandra Levit explains in Fast Company “many of us knew how to use words and persuasion to problem-solve and solicit cooperation.”

Generation X Offers Their Own Solutions to Communication Challenges

“Heading off to college and our first careers, the electronic age really started heating up” explains Generation Xer, Anna Garvey. “Generation X came of age just as the very essence of communication was experiencing a seismic shift, and it’s given us a unique perspective that’s half analog old school and half digital new school.” Think sound byte processing and video games. Rather than wailing, “Why won’t someone understand us?” Generation X is more apt to concentrate on things they can control — results. Oriented to results versus process, they have a direct, no-nonsense communication style. Impatient with flowery explanations, Monday morning weekend woes and too much backstory, Generation Xers will expect the same from employees and colleagues. Succinct, relevant bullet points work just fine for them. That applies to everyday conversation — and performance reviews. Bottom Line: Save time. Get to the point — FAST. Don’t be afraid to say what you mean.

Generation X Prepared to Be Leaders

“To be sure, not every Generation Xer grew up the same way or acquired the same skills through their experiences. But our careers have tracked the rise of the digital workplace, and the foundation that’s given many of us may pay dividends in helping us navigate the Boomer brain drain” concludes Generation Xer, Alexandra Levit. Often Generation Xer’s emotional intelligence, confidence to work independently, and direct communication styles are skills companies need most in their new leaders. Levit concludes that “the research suggests that Generation Xers are uniquely prepared for those roles – not just next in line for them.”

Generation X Leaders Value More Transparency

Generation X’s work and leadership style impacts how they lead workplaces, nonprofits, and governments. Politically, Generation X is expected to become the dominant generation in the United State’s House of Representatives by 2018. Generation X is predicted to add more inclusion and transparency to the political system, as well as a willingness and ability to compromise

They Are Living Out Their Own GenXpectations

Gen-Xers entered the workforce in the midst of large corporate layoffs in the 1980s or the dotcom bust in the mid-1990s. Startup culture and entrepreneurship was not the norm. Gen-Xers “watched their parent’s loyalty and overtime rewarded by layoffs and downsizing – this may contribute to their cynicism,” explains Joanie B. Connell, PhD. Unlike their Boomer predecessors, Generation X concluded they did not want to be married to their work. Forget about two hour meetings. Generation X wants a lot less talk and lot more action. Generation X values getting their work done in less time and enjoy their time outside of work. Think Freedom, Family, Fun, and Friends. Generational research tells us Generation X is efficient, works smarter not harder and values leveraging technology in a rapidly-changing vista.


About the Authors: Sherri Petro and Ilana Herring

As a generational expert, Sherri Petro knows we have the keys to the kingdom by understanding the attributes of the multiple generation workplace comprised of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. By leveraging her experience, expertise and education, Sherri can illuminate multiple possibilities, identify roadblocks and assist individuals and organizations to achieve desired results. Check out Sherri’s website to read about her popular speaking topics and why organizations seek out her generational expertise.

Ilana Herring is VPI Strategies’ internet marketing strategist. Ilana loves learning about the multiple generations because it helps her better understand herself and the world around her. She is fascinated by all things digital and social, and enjoys exploring the world wide web for news and information about Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.


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