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Generation X Published: Sunday, June 14, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The generation born after the Baby Boom has been given many labels: Twenty something’s, Generation X, The Thirteenth Generation. They all refer to a group of ages (late teens and twenties) of today’s new generation of workers and professionals. I prefer the term Generation X, first coined by the Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland to describe his own generation, as one that defies conventional labels.

Generation X grew in the shadow of the Baby Boom, which demographers traditionally have defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. (By the way, I am one of them). Generation X’s first official birth year was in 1965. To define such generation, it is necessary to clarify its relationship to the Baby Boom, who grew in the spotlight of new products and services that were created especially for them. Universities, schools, programs, and shopping malls expanded to make room for them. Never in history had a generation been so idealized, so mystified, so focused on. For 50 years, they have taken center stage on product and service design, marketing strategies and management culture development. Then along came Generation X with a new emerging mind-set and a different world view. Thus, when we look at management B employees issues, we are probably best served by thinking of Generation X as those born from 1960 to 1980. They are the employees and professionals who are in their twenties and even early thirties today. This group of people are providing a core supply of new labor for the next 10 years and, paradoxically, they are an endangered species. Suffering from the transformation of the labor pool organizations in general, this group of interesting people slowly and quietly penetrated all sorts of workplaces. Again, Coupland, himself a member of this generation, announced that he didn’tlike any of the titles his generation had been given pointing out that this new generation of young people defies labels. Just call us Generation X , he implored. This cry for alert about labels is worth noting, because they can be dangerous and leading to erroneous stereotyping. However, it is nearly impossible to learn about something until we name it.

As we together researched this social expression, for better understanding this group of people, we label with care while fully realizing the benefits for developing organizational and social strategies and interventions.

Some top attributes of Generation X are the following: They are good at change, feel confortable with technology, are more independent and financially savvy, are not intimidated by hierarchy and authority and are very creative. The point is that this group have learned to adapt to new realities, are computer driven, know how to take care of themselves, don’t look for approval from those in charge and add fresh perspective to strategic sessions. Learning how to communicate and interact with these young people is vital for retaining this knowledge group.

Claire Raines has interpreted this subculture better than anyone galvanizing the following chart:

Complaints of Managers About Generation X
The Things Managers Do That Drive Generation X Crazy

  • They ask why about every assignment
  • They are not willing to pay their dues
  • They are materialistic
  • They’re not willing to go the extra mile and finish the job
  • They’re cynical, they have a dim view of the world
  • They don’t show up and don’t even call to say why
  • They’re not committed-to me, the job, or the company
  • They have no respect for authority
  • They’re far more interested in things other than their jobs
  • They want things now
  • They give raises that are virtually meaningless
  • They give insincere, gratuitous thank you’s and pats on the back
  • They throw people into job’s they’re not trained for or qualified to do
  • They allow the workplace to be disorganized, cluttered or dirty
  • They answer questions with, Because I said so or an attitude like it
  • They overlook unacceptable behavior from staff members
  • They ignore employee opinions and ideas
  • They fail to give feedback and regular performance reviews
  • They micromanage

Copyright 1998 QBS, Inc.
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