InsideOut Development

What Your Gen X Boss Wishes You Knew

by Amanda Parry


You know what’s increasingly rare in today’s workplace? Gen Xers.

It’s true—the generation born from 1965-1980 that ushered in MTV, survived parachute pants, and learned “word processing” in high school is the smallest segment of the US workforce. But small numbers don’t equal small impact: According to Time magazine, 68% of Inc. 500 CEOs are Gen Xers.

In short, even if you aren’t a Gen X, chances are, your boss IS. It’s a nearly 70% chance, as it turns out. And just like you, these Gen Xers come with their own set of defining behaviors that, if well understood, can not only help you see where your boss is coming from but truly connect with him/her as well.

So, what exactly does your Gen X boss wish you knew? Let’s look at the top three:

Dude, I’m Not Into Handholding
Gen Xers are the quintessential latchkey children. They were conditioned from a young age to care for themselves and expect others to do the same. Therefore, they will not micro-manage your work day-to-day. However, if you do ask for feedback, it’s not viewed as a weakness. They will be the first to brainstorm ideas and support you through a tough problem. But, here’s the caveat: they won’t solve it for you. Sorry, they’re just not wired that way.

This is a B.S.-Free Zone
Getting a trophy just for showing up was unheard of when they were growing up. Therefore, many can be slow to offer praise. On the surface this seems like a negative, but the flip side is that they are incapable of blowing smoke or offering up false praise. If a Gen Xer tells you you did a great job, you can be sure you nailed it.

I‘m Picking Up What You’re Putting Down
A GenXer has more in common with you than you might think. Because they are the “sandwich” generation, they have one foot in the values of the boomers and one in the mindset of millennials. They understand and embrace technology, but don’t turn their noses up at face-to-face communication and traditional business values. Bottom line: they get you. They will work hard to understand your individual needs and meet you where you’re at, whether you’re 22 or 62.

GenX, Boomers, Millennials—there’s definitely a lot of talking ‘bout our generations. Sometimes it’s tough to make sense of it all and just get to work. So let’s make it easy: great communications—including feedback, active listening, and understanding each other’s needs—are the keys to connection, no matter your birthdate. And one thing we can ALL agree on? No one looks good in parachute pants.

Category: Coaching Generation Y Leadership

Picture of Amanda Parry

Amanda Parry is an accomplished marketing professional with over 15 years of experience moving audiences to action via her all-time favorite medium: the written word. Amanda holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Utah. She is “wife” to Spencer and “mom” to Lilly and Jack and can be found either running or reading when she has a few minutes to spare.

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