Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gen X—Has Our Day Finally Come?

Members of Gen X (those born between 1960 and 1980), have I got good news for you. I mean us.

A study conducted by EY claims that Gen X (and not those dang Millennials, or Gen Y) are viewed more favorably as “the generation best equipped to manage in current economic conditions.” Woo hoo!

And there’s more. When survey respondents were asked which generation is the best at displaying certain positive characteristics, they picked Gen Y for seven out of eleven. These include being a revenue generator (58%) and relationship builder (53%) as well as being adaptable (49%) and good at problem-solving (57%) and collaboration (53%).

However, apparently we don’t have quite the “executive presence” as our elder Boomers (28% vs. 66%).

I blame it all on casual Fridays.

Did you know (of course you didn’t) that my husband took a picture of me on my first day of real work after college graduation, and in it I’m wearing three-inch heels??? Hah! Three-inch heels! I wouldn’t give those suckers a second glance now. It’s flats and low heels all the way. So, yeah, I’m not entirely surprised that our “executive presence” is a bit lacking when compared to the Boomers.

But again, and on the plus side, Gen X was cited as least likely to be considered difficult to work with (16%) or cynical and condescending (29%).
I’ll confess that I am surprised by that last bit. Gen X not cynical? No, that’s a fluke, brought on by the addition of “and condescending.” If the survey had asked about being cynical, period, we’d have ranked pretty high. That’s my two cents, anyway. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m cynical like that.
Now here’s something interesting.
While Gen X was cited as best at managing teams effectively overall, Gen Y was cited as being slightly better (69% versus 68%) at building culturally competent teams and at not discriminating based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on, including taking measures to avoid unconscious bias. And Gen Y totally beat out the Boomers (33% versus 16%) in their ability to be “inclusive” leaders.
Of course, this is all perception and doesn’t necessarily reflect actual workplace conditions (for example, who’s in management or being groomed for management and who isn’t) or individual attitudes.
And, considering all the news reports about bias against older individuals in hiring, well, it’s a curious contradiction. Gen X is considered prime management material, if only those of us closer than not to 50 could get hired.
Just today I read that IBM revised an ad for semiconductor engineers that originally included a sentence that all applicants must have graduated from college within the past three years. Hmmm … 
An IBM spokesperson later said the sentence was inappropriate but denied any intent of the company to dissuade older workers from applying. Come on.
And, granted this is just my experience (well, mine and Jen from Jenx67), Boomers (many of them parents of the Millennials) fall all over themselves in the workplace fawning over these young chaps. Time magazine didn’t question whether Gen X is the ignored generation for nothing.
In any case, I’m just happy to have my generation finally recognized for the corporate backbone we are.

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