The Difference Between Generation X and Millennials

Think about your parents and how you may differ from them. What kind of music do they listen to? What interests them? How were they raised? What was going on in the world then, compared to now? The differences could go on and on. While the Gen Xers were born on the cusp of cell phones and the internet, Millennials grew up with these as part of their everyday life. The emergence of social media and how Millennials interact today is enough to show just how different the two generations can be.

Generation X consists of those born between the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s. This generation precedes the Millennials who are born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s to 2000s.

Differences in the Work Place

The experiences of growing up in different environments and cultures has produced generations of employees who are dissimilar from one another, and yet are able to find similarities in the workforce.

Today, Millennials make up more than one-third (35%) of the workforce, making us the largest percentage of American workers. Millennials value transparency, consistent feedback, loyalty, independence with the ability to be entrepreneurial, and work-life balance. We thrive in a team setting and when we can make a difference in the world. We want our creative solutions to be encouraged and own ideas to be heard and utilized.

Generation X accounts for one-third (33%) of the workforce, with the majority in leadership and manager roles. Gen Xers value being individualistic, flexible, technologically adept, and having work-life balance. They thrive when working on task-based projects and when their entrepreneurial spirit is engaged.

Working Together

Although separated by years, defining moments in history, environments and experiences, Millennials and Gen Xers share similar values. This makes Gen Xers great mentors to Millennials as they bring a culture of quality, work ethic, and relationship building that can be passed down to Millennials. They are also result-oriented and entrepreneurial thinkers which lends to them to being hands-off when managing, allowing Millennials to navigate themselves. Millennials like to have the autonomy to run with a project, come up with new and innovative ideas, and have our opinions heard.

How My Manager and I Navigate Our Differences

My Gen X manager is aware of the differences in our generations and has adapted her management style to reflect her Millennial team. For example, she gives us big tasks and allows us to use our entrepreneurial and innovative ideas to complete the project.

My manager has taught me about different management and leadership styles, empathy, employee motivation, and how to be collaborative with others. Working for a Gen X manager has been a positive experience for me and has enabled me to foster characteristics and traits from their generation that will make me an overall better employee.

How to Work with Your Manager as a Millennial

Not every Millennial will be as lucky to have a Gen X manager that openly adapts to today’s dominant generation in the workforce. So, what does this mean for Millennials out there struggling with their Gen X manager?

For starters, Millennials can also be open to the differences between the generations and what each can gain from working together. Encourage a Gen Xer to try new ways to approach problems by making suggestions. Try to understand how they navigate in the organization, observe how they work with and influence other leaders, and how they communicate.

As Millennials, we value feedback and transparency, therefore I would encourage millennials to be open when communicating with their Gen X managers and suggesting new and innovative ideas. The sharing of strengths and ideas is what makes it possible for these two groups to have a good connection and drive the success of the organization.

This post was written by Monica Urrutia. Monica is an HR Business Partner at Pharma Logistics. She graduated from Illinois State University in 2015 with a Health Sciences Degree. In her spare time, Monica is passionate about giving back to the community and volunteers for the Schuler Scholar Program and at Zion Benton High School as a cheerleading coach.

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