Are You Overlooking Your Gen X Talent?

BY Kathy Crosett
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With all the media focus on millennials and baby boomers, it’s easy to forget there’s another generation sandwiched in between these groups. The Gen X workforce may be small in numbers, but these folks are in their prime leadership years. Your Gen X team members also possess unique talents. Here’s how to make the most of these loyal employees.

Stephanie Neal and Richard Wellins cite Nielsen statistics in their CNBC post to show just how important your current Gen X managers are. The typical Gen X manager is juggling 7 direct reports. That’s more than most millennial managers are dealing with. In addition, 54% of Gen X employees know their way about mobile and other tech devices. As a group, that percentage is only slightly lower than the millennials and their celebrated tech prowess (56%). How have Gen X employees been rewarded by organizations for their skills and hard work? Usually, they’ve been much slower than baby boomers or millennials to move up the career path.

You can fix this situation. Start by giving your Gen X employees and managers what they need to reach their highest potential. These folks want coaching and professional development. Unlike other generations in the workforce, Gen Xers like to go outside of their current workplace for training and coaching. They’re not always sure that their managers know best. Help these team members identify the professional organizations and training opportunities that will meet their needs.

You can also improve your organization’s agility by using the famous team player skills of your Gen X staff. Research shows that 67% of Gen Xers “are working relentlessly to break down organizational silos.” Working across departments, through small agile teams, is conducive to ideation and problem solving. Giving Gen Xers this type of experience will develop their talent and shape their senior leadership skills.

There’s one more reason you’ll want to focus on grooming your Gen X managers for the next level of leadership. Despite being under-​recognized for their contributions, they’re more loyal to employers than other generations. While 42% of millennials are ready to jump ship to get a chance at a promotion, only 37% of Gen Xers would consider leaving an employer to advance.