Can You Guess That I Am From Generation X?

Book review: Decades of Differences - Making It Work by Bonnie Hagemann & Kenneth Gronbach

“Gen X is a generation of nomads. Gen Xers move from place to place trying to find their desired lifestyle combined with interesting work that fits. They are marked by and thrive on independence….Gen Xers tend to be impatient, to put a high value on their time and to show little tolerance for having it wasted.”  -Decades of Differences

Have you ever felt like you are an incredibly unique individual and then had the realization that you are just like everyone else, or at least everyone else in your generation?  As I read the book “Decades of Difference” about the different working styles of Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y, I was shocked that the author  had me solidly pegged with my Gen X qualities. I even thought, ‘how does he know that about me?’

First of all, how the generations are classified in the book:

  • The massive Gen Y (born between 1985 and 2004) age 10-29
  • The small Gen X (born between 1965 and 1984) age 30-49
  • The current king of the mountain, the Baby Boomers (born between 1954 and 1964) age 50-69

Since I was born in 1975 I am right smack in the middle of Gen X.

A few other things the authors brought out about my generation X that I found interesting (and true):

  • Gen X is called the “sandwich generation” because it is so small and sandwiched between two enormous generations.
  • “Gen Xers love to learn; managers should honor their sense of independence and be flexible about how and when they do work.”
  • “They are somewhat irreverent, cynical, and indifferent, often refusing to live by corporate or societal rules…..However they love to learn. They are big givers and they are not afraid to step out and try new things.”
  • Gen X was one of the “least parented” generations ever. 40% were latchkey kids and half of their parents were divorced. (Why? Read the profile of boomer generation and you will know.)
  • “Gen Xers learned to do things on their own and made up their own independent rules as they went. Looking back over the Gen X foundation it is no surprise that they learned to depend on themselves, decided work wasn't everything, delayed getting married, bought their own homes and looked for ways to remain primarily untethered except for child rearing where, determined to be different, they created a whole new category: over parenting.” (Note: The concept of “over parenting” and its effect on Gen Y was extremely entertaining to me.)
  • Baby boomers have held on to the reigns longer than anyone ever anticipated, but now they are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.  The Gen Xers who would take their positions are already facing competition from ambitious Gen Yers who are quickly moving up the ranks.

In this book, Section 1 is “Who are they and what do they think about each other.” Section 2 is “What can companies do”.  To be honest, I found Section 1 to be fascinating but pretty much skimmed through Section 2 until I got to Chapter 18 “Building on Strengths” and the conclusion which wrapped it all together. But people who are charged with hiring, managing and incentivizing people of different generations would certainly find Section 2 to be helpful.

The conclusion cites the advice from bestselling author Jim Collins that successful companies should “build on strengths rather than trying to remedy weaknesses.” This book is an insightful way to see the strengths (and sometimes entertaining weaknesses) of each generation in the current workforce.

I feel that I learned quite a bit about myself and my own work style plus my Baby Boomer boss and the Gen Yers I manage.

Check out the book: Decades of Differences: Making It Work

By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing

Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg


Gen Xers are impatient, put a high value on their time and show little tolerance for having it wasted.  (Tweet This)

Can you identify the different working styles of Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y? (Tweet This)

Book review: Decades of Differences -  Making It Work (Tweet This)