Monday, February 14, 2011

You may not want to hear it, but you really need to get some Gen Xers on your team

I've been writing about Gen X for a long time. It started out as a response to all the "slacker" articles that were written about my generation in the last century. Seriously, even when they were trying to compliment us, they'd still find a way to call us slackers.

Today, Gen X is largely ignored. Filmmaker Sharon Hyman even says she had trouble finding people who were still writing about Gen X while doing research on this cohort. But here's the interesting thing - I don't think Gen Xers care if you ignore them. Being ignored IS better than being called a slacker, after all.

But if you want to be successful in this century, you're going to need to get some Xers on your team soon. Because the Boomers are retiring. And there are a lot more Boomers than Xers. And even the most rabid Xer-hating Boomer has to admit that it would be very difficult for a 25-year-old to come in and fill their shoes.

Yes, Millennials are great. They have a lot of spunk. But as someone who is less than a month away from turning 40, I know it takes more than a positive attitude and being born into the Information Age to run a successful business. It takes some mad skills and a strong foundation that can only come from experience.

I'm not talking about "paying your dues." I'm not talking about towing the line for X number of years until someone else says you're "ready." I'm talking about most of us have our heads up our rear ends when we're young.

So this is all a numbers game. There are less Xers. And they don't care if you ignore them. But they also won't come work for you. Or take your torch when you want to retire. Not unless you hook them before the mass Babyboomer exodus.

It may already be too late. So many Xers have already thrown up their hands in the face of companies that offer lots of team building exercises and very little opportunity. They've gone out their own and are making money while others are busy having cookie exchanges or relay races as a way to create camaraderie in the office.