Generation X and The Millennials or Generation Y: What You Need to Know About Mentoring the New Generations
Which of the following means the most to you?
Elvis joins the Army.
Jimi Hendrix dies
Kurt Cobain dies.
Your answer, of course, depends on your age—or more specifically, on the generation you belong to. While pop music milestones may not seem all that important, the sum total of experiences, ideas and values shared by people of different generations makes for a melting pot of work approaches and priorities. Once you understand where the newer generations are "coming from," as a Boomer (born 1946-1964) might say, it’s easy to target your mentoring style to bring out their strengths and make the most progress. Remember to discard biases and pre-conceived notions, and you and your mentees from all generations enjoy your generational differences—and similarities!
Generation X: Declaring their Independence The 51 million members of Generation X, born between 1965 and 1976, grew up in a very different world than previous generations. Divorce and working moms created "latchkey" kids out of many in this generation. This led to traits of independence, resilience and adaptability. Generation X feels strongly that "I don't need someone looking over my shoulder."
At the same time, this generation expects immediate and ongoing feedback, and is equally comfortable giving feedback to others. Other traits include working well in multicultural settings, desire for some fun in the workplace and a pragmatic approach to getting things done.
Generation X saw their parents get laid off or face job insecurity. Many of them also entered the workplace in the early '80s, when the economy was in a downturn. Because of these factors, they've redefined loyalty. Instead of remaining loyal to their company, they have a commitment to their work, to the team they work with, and the boss they work for. For example, a Baby Boomer complains about his dissatisfaction with management, but figures its part of the job. A Gen Xer doesn't waste time complaining-she sends her resume out and accepts the best offer she can find at another organization.
At the same time, Generation X takes employability seriously. But for this generation there isn't a career ladder. There's a career lattice. They can move laterally, stop and start, their career is more fluid.
Even more so than Baby Boomers, members of Generation X dislike authority and rigid work requirements. An effective mentoring relationship with them must be as hands-off as possible. Providing feedback on their performance should play a big part, as should encouraging their creativity and initiative to find new ways to get tasks done. As a mentor, you'll want Gen Xers to work with you, not for you. Start by informing them of your expectations and how you'll measure their progress and assure them that you're committed to helping them learn new skills. (Members of Generation X are eager to learn new skills because they want to stay employable.) Gen Xers work best when they're given the desired outcome and then turned loose to figure out how to achieve it. This means a mentor should guide them with feedback and suggestions, not step-by-step instructions.
The Millennial Generation: Up and ComingJust beginning to enter the workplace, The Millennial Generation was born between 1977 and 1998. The 75 million members of this generation are being raised at the most child-centric time in our history. Perhaps it's because of the showers of attention and high expectations from parents that they display a great deal of self-confidence to the point of appearing cocky. As you might expect, this group is technically literate like no one else. Technology has always been part of their lives, whether it's computers and the Internet or cell phones and text pagers.
Millennials are typically team-oriented, banding together to date and socialize rather than pairing off. They work well in groups, preferring this to individual endeavors. They're good multitaskers, having juggled sports, school, and social interests as children so expect them to work hard. Millennials seem to expect structure in the workplace. They acknowledge and respect positions and titles, and want a relationship with their boss. This doesn't always mesh with Generation X's love of independence and hands-off style.
All Millennials have one thing in common: They are new to the professional workplace. Therefore, they are definitely in need of mentoring, no matter how smart and confident they are. And they'll respond well to the personal attention. Because they appreciate structure and stability, mentoring Millennials should be more formal, with set meetings and a more authoritative attitude on the mentor's part.
Provide lots of challenges but also provide the structure to back it up. This means breaking down goals into steps, as well as offering any necessary resources and information they'll need to meet the challenge. You might consider mentoring Millennials in groups, because they work so well in team situations. That way they can act as each other's resources or peer mentors.
People born in the post-depression era are called baby boomers, what are the labels for the next generations?
Update: Ok thank you for correcting my wrong date... just want the labels, yes, they are labels... do you not watch the news? I love smart people... thank you everyone!!
Baby boomer's are 60s and 70s, not post depression (I guess technically they are) but that's their parents I believe. After WWII, everyone came back and started makin' babies like there's no freakin' tomorrow. The next generation is Generation X I think, and I have no idea what this coming generation is called... probably something retarded like Generation Xtreme... unless that's what the X in generation X means... holy god lame, what the hell is wrong with people?
Baby boomers are not from the post-depression era, they are from the post world war II era. the next 2 groups of generations are generation x and generation y.
OOH! I heard this one on the tv a few weeks ago! I always thought it was a generation X.. but on this show, they said that people born in 1985? I think it was 85..or maybe 83? ..up until 1995 are called millenniums
I am a generation X'er & the next generation is the internet generation. Apparently the flower children who were to busy to actually raise thier kids felt that were an inconvience and had no value what so ever. Personally, I am NOT amused. But there you go.
Are you ready to lead the Millennium generation?
The Millennium generations have entered the work place and it will never be the same again. With their rucksacks, big headphones and eyes glued to the smart phones, they are digital natives completely unaware of what life was like before Internet. Now they are setting the pace and standard for working life and generations before have to rethink how to engage with, and lead, the newcomers.
And maybe leading is not even the right word for what the « always on » generation requires. Our new, constantly communicating colleagues, demand something else that most leaders are neither familiar with, nor recognise the need for. Key words are genuine engagement, connection, involvement and feedback. Born between 1980 and 1999 the Millennium generation have been supported, encouraged and carried from crib to college, resulting in a self-awareness and confidence that leaves the rest of us by the wayside. They expect to been listened to- always- and bargaining with parents in everything from bedtimes to holidays became an integrated skill from an early age.
Do not mistake this for laziness or ego-drive just because it does not fit with the standards of the baby boomers of the 1960s. Quite contrary. The Millenniumers are used to embracing diversity, using social media to make new, and stay in touch with old friends and contacts across the globe. Networking takes on a different meaning with no division between private and business spheres. Whereas the children of the 60 and 70s thought Inter-railing in Europe was pushing the envelope, the Millenniumers travel the whole world in three months collecting experiences and life skills as they go. An increasing number of charities has caught on and promise the eager adventurers work at everything from orphanages to animal sanctuaries in places we have hardly heard of before. In pursuit of a better world, and a true belief that their efforts matter, the Millenniumers engage themselves in idealistic causes, which give gap year a new meaning.
In the work place, the Millenniumers know how to make connections that create new approaches and ways of thinking that severely challenges the belief system of the seniors (which is classified as anyone over 45 years). To add to our pain, they don`t take no for an answer and are happy to leave to set up own shop in pursuit of their ideas. Their need to be valued, and eagerness to grow, means that concrete, specific and honest feedback, delivered skilfully, needs to become a regular feature, not twice a year in appraisals. They refuse to be limited in space and thought and view the need for freedom and fun as a natural part of life. Command and control is out. Millenniums believe in talking, not being told, thriving in flatter hierarchies with plenty of opportunity for involvement and influence.
In this environment 21st Century International Skills become key factors, preparing and enabling the upcoming generations for success and organisations for survival. The through lines of these skills are systems thinking, working creatively together, collaboration across diversity, acting with larger community in mind. This means that the emerging generations will (and some have already) adopt a new mindset shifting their focus from ego to eco, from “my needs” to what is needed in the larger system, and lastly to harness the latent potential of diversity.
Millenniumers love collaboration; they seek diversity and master connectivity. These are all central skills much needed to create the innovation culture required in the business world today. They have even become crucial for survival. The questions leaders have to closely examine are how to lead and engage with this new generation of workers to really harness the potential of these capabilities many of us are new to. How can leaders tap into the idealism and willingness to make a difference, and not kill off initiative and ambition? Which edges do leaders themselves have to cross to lead in ways that inspires the Millenniumers?
By changing the focus from directive leadership, often carried out on a 1:1 basis, leaders can engage the creative powers of their teams and organization as humans systems. In order to do so they need to set aside fear and need for control, and lean into the collective intelligence and creativeness of their systems.
Are you ready to do that?
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