By Chris Owen
A GenX response to What 9 to 5
Sorry, Kat and Michelle, millennials may not necessarily be in the forefront of changing work dynamics. Generation X may have beat you to it.
As a GenXer who manages several Millennials, I don’t necessarily agree that millennials are this uniform group with stereotypical traits. I think many in my generation – GenX – have the same characteristics as millennials when it comes to being satisfied at a job. I never had a 40-hour work week nor was I complacent with the status quo. I took chances and switched jobs when opportunity knocked. I look back and see my experiences reflected in how millennials are portrayed in today’s news. For those reasons I don’t see Millennials creating a new paradigm in how we view work. They are embracing a natural progression of what we, Generation X, started. We laid the groundwork for the trends that are associated with millennials. It did not originate with them. Working collaboratively on teams, finding the right work/life balance and willing to embrace new technologies came out of the dot com boom at the end of the last century. They are not new.
Like some millennials today, when I started out I ran up against a Baby Boomer mentality that sometimes valued loyalty more than my job satisfaction. Luckily, I had some managers that engaged me by leading instead of just directing me what to do. Those interactions are what define my relationships with millennials now. It’s not just about reaching out to them on their level but connecting with them sometimes on the same level. It means including them in the process and sharing with them in the rewards. I hold them accountable for their mistakes and work with them to resolve them. My sense is that millennials want to be inspired rather than talked down to. It takes more management time and effort on my part to implement, but in my experience leads to higher satisfaction and employee retention.
Millennials, you were not the first. Like every other generation, you follow someone else.
Kat – These traits may not be new to millennials, but the 9 to 5 was most certainly still the standard when I entered the work force for the first time. We may not have been the originators, but we are most definitely the executors who are taking what was given to us before and making it our own. That’s what makes us interesting and that’s what makes us standout from the generational crowd.
Michelle – I’ve never understood the notion that “millennials get special treatment.” I’ve never been made to feel like a special snowflake that the world is going to change for. I’ve followed the same path of millions of Americans before me. I think we are just another generation that marketers, business owners, and other generations are trying to figure out. We’re the new yuppie or hippie…and people love to hate us.