Magazine article The Futurist

Bringing out the Best in Generation X

Magazine article The Futurist

Bringing out the Best in Generation X

Article excerpt

Are they arrogant? Disloyal? Or misunderstood?

Contrary to popular myth, Generation X'ers are not bad employees, says Bruce Tulgan, author of The Manager's Pocket Guide to Generation X. Managers who make slight accommodations for X'ers' ways of doing things will find them to be hardworking, creative, and productive.

Tulgan heads a think tank on Generation X (Americans born between 1963 and 1977) and is an X'er himself. He lists five misconceptions and suggests ways to bring out the best in these workers.

Misconception 1: X'ers are disloyal. They are not disloyal, Tulgan argues, but they are certainly wary. "As X'ers grew up, all of society's important institutions were faltering - schools, cities, government, big business, religious institutions," Tulgan says. X'ers are entering the work force at a time of corporate downsizing. They've seen hardworking, loyal employees laid off. X'ers will stick with a company under certain conditions, but their experience has proved that the old workplace bargain of loyalty in exchange for security is obsolete.

Misconception 2: X'ers are arrogant. X'ers are intensely self-confident, Tulgan admits, but not arrogant. Because their parents were more likely to be divorced, both working, or more permissive than parents of previous generations, X'ers have learned to do things for themselves and to handle problems alone. "X'ers' intense self-confidence is not that of arrogant children, but rather that of children who learned over and over again that, if they had to, they could fend for themselves."

Misconception 3: X'ers have short attention spans. We have all been changed by the information revolution, but X'ers are the first generation to grow up in it, and it has shaped the way they think, learn, and communicate. They prefer audio, visual, and computer to print media. They are able to quickly sift through, select, and assimilate information from simultaneous sources. In fact, Tulgan writes, "X'ers' style of thinking, learning, and communicating is more attuned to the twenty-first century than the old fashioned way. You have to think fast and loose in a chaotic world."

Misconception 4: X'ers are not willing to pay dues. It's not that they're necessarily unwilling, Tulgan says, it's just that their experience with corporate downsizing has shown that dues-paying doesn't pay off. The only source of security they believe in is themselves: their ability work, solve problems, and add value to a company. …

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