Why Gen X managers are different

Mar 20 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The retirement of swathes of Baby Boomers is going to result in ascendancy of a very different type of manager, writes Ray Williams, executive vice-president of Canada's Premier Career Management Group, in the Financial Post.

Baby Boomers, he points out, are driven by materialism and display marked workaholic tendencies. They have had a minimum number of careers or a single career path, are impressed by authority, are optimistic and are driven to achieve.

Generation X, born between l960 and l980, grew up with pet rocks, platform shoes and watched The Simpsons. They question authority, seek bigger meaning in life and work, are technologically savvy, live in the present, are skeptical, see career as a key to happiness, are open to multi-careers, consider challenge and variety as being more important than job security and constantly aim to achieve work-life balance.

....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.

The upshot of this, Williams argues, is that Gen X managers will only thrive in organizations that give them independence, reward for merit not years, minimal rules and bureaucracy and an atmosphere that encourages informality and common sense.

All of which leaves an awful lot of organizations with an awful lot of work to do if they're going to get Gen X on their side.

Financial Post | Gen X will change work culture

Older Comments

Good find, and a shift in management styles that is noteworthy.

While Gen-Xer contributors are great team members for their stereotypical reasons (adaptable, technology literate, creative), it will be interesting to see the types of organizations we lead in, given the authority issues of this generation and unwillingness to blindly follow marching orders.

Toby Lucich

Managers will just have to learn how to communicate and keep everyone on the team. Gen X likes to play on the team as was in the article. We might question, but if we're given honest answers and included we accomplish great feats.

Crippled Dogma