A Gen-Xer’s Guide to Working for Millennials

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Recently, we shared information for millennial workers to better work with their Gen-X Managers. But that isn’t the only potential generational dynamic in the workplace. For those of us in Generation-X, how do we work with managers who are younger than us, sometimes significantly so. It can seem frustrating when you feel like you should be in charge of your manager rather than the other way around. So how do you cope, and thrive, with a millennial manager? Here are some tips to help.

  • Understand how brand driven they are. More than any generation before them, millennials have grown up with an innate sense of personal brand. Beyond the big names, like Apple or Google, millennials understand that image is an important part of their everyday life and their careers. How they brand themselves is the face they show to the world, so they will expect this kind of behavior from their employees as well.
  • Take advantage of their need for work/life balance. When we say “take advantage” we don’t mean it in a manipulative or negative way. A millennial manager finds work/life balance to be an extremely important aspect of their lives, so they have worked hard to make it possible in their careers. For this reason, you can work with them to create a flexible schedule, results oriented workplace, or remote working arrangement.
  • Flexibility is not a sign of weakness. That said, your millennial boss’s flexibility about time and hours is not a weakness. They won’t tolerate slacking, which many of them associate with generation X, even if that’s a false equivalence. They are hard workers and it will be important to them that you also contribute to the success of their organization.
  • They really are sensitive to the needs of others. Another stereotype about millennials is their selfishness. But this, like all of the stories about Gen-X, isn’t entirely true. Yes, they participated in group activities where there were no losers, but that doesn’t mean they are uninterested in winning. They do recognize the needs of others and will act accordingly, so don’t be afraid to talk to them about your challenges or concerns.

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