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September 30th, 2016

Along with all the other daunting changes happening in the external environment, arguably one of the most important relates to how you and your business are managing talent. “Managing Talent” in this instance is all inclusive – recruitment, retention, motivation and performance. Generation X & Y (GXY) are the next cohort of manager that will be sitting in boardrooms deciding on the future of your business – how seriously are you taking them?


Let’s start with some basic definitions to help navigate who is who in the corporate zoo. Huge shout out to the folks at Ernst & Young – who have produced reports to help under the categorization and implications thereof.


Baby boomers are the demographic born during the post–World War II baby boom, approximately between the years 1946 and 1964. This includes people who are between 52 and 70 years old in 2016. Boomers tend to be productive contributors to organizations as they are hardworking, team players who are nurturing and essential for others’ development. The downside to baby boomers is that they aren’t adaptable, collaborative or easily engaged with their corporate brand. It’s not too surprising that they are likely to be least “tech savvy” of the three generations.


Generation X — roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980 — has just 46 million members, making it a dark-horse demographic. Compared with other generations, members of Gen X are considered a really productive part of my organization and strong team players. Some of the more positive characteristics of Gen X are being revenue generators, relationship builder who are very adaptable. They are generally optimistic and fairly easy to work with


The generation of people born during the 1980s and early 1990s. The name is based on Generation X, the generation that preceded them. Members of Generation Y are often referred to as “echo boomers” because they are the children of parents born during the baby boom (the “baby boomers”). Members of Gen Y were viewed as the “best” at being tech savvy and being social media opportunists, or leveraging social media beyond marketing. Gen Y also outperform other generations at collaboration and adaptability. They also are distinctly more entrepreneurial. Although they are enthusiastic and hardworking, they are can also be difficult to work with, entitled and lacking experience.


A younger generation of leaders and managers will need to be developed into roles and positions that help drive your organization forward and if these things are not top of mind, you might be missing a trick. The misconception that these challenges are only for the HR department is completely incorrect, because the impact of mismanaged human capital doesn’t; even effect HR – it effects the core functioning of a business, so I beg to differ that this is only an HR challenge – it should be every senior executive that is hoping to have a business in the future’s challenge.


Here are four things to think about:


According to the theory of organizational culture by Edgar Schein, the core of your business determines the values, truths and assumptions about the organization. There are many organizations that you can feel the core of the business just by sitting in the lobby and my experience on a number of occasions has been that younger generations are increasingly in tune with the “core” of a business. This may take shape in the artifacts or rituals performed by the business, but these are ultimately exclusionary and isolating to GXY.



Sometimes the “inspiring” story of how the business has been built to a point that it is robust and can weather the storm is a such a discouraging narrative to someone in GXY. The internal structure being “robust” sounds like inflexible and unaccommodating. Positioning conversations that create an honest sense of the business is important, but what is traditional attractive about stability and predictability may be received as rigid and restrictive. It is great to consider allowing for more dynamic teams to operate in playpens, with different rules and a Flatter more attainable organogram.



Although, I have not worked for many organizations, I personally have left an organization because I just didn’t buy into their vision. In this particular case, the core of the organization was all wrong for me so this compounded the problem. Be that as it may, they psychological contract that comes as a result of buy-in to the vision is really valuable, because it is the kind of this that carries employees through those rainy, doubtful days. If GXY don’t buy into the vision of your company, each bad day or missed deadline becomes a nail in a coffin for them, the end is inevitable, and it just becomes a matter of time.



Members of GXY generally don’t even look similar within the same age bracket, let alone life stage, but businesses often treat them like a homogenous group of people. It is important to be mindful that life experience, exposure and context sometimes may be a better way of viewing the various members of GXY. This is completely untested, but worth exploring because the more customized their experience is with your business the higher the probability of sticking around.


Try just one of the above as a pet project – have the conversation and gauge the response, it may help you uncover a better way of recruiting, retaining & motivating GXY talent.


Hopeful, pensive and encouraged.