Management Success Tip #164: Keep Your Talented GenXers Motivated: Give Them Project and Time Ownership

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Overall, GenXers are not fond of authority. They prefer to march to their own drummer, which makes many a manager nervous and turn into a micro-managing freak: a GenXer’s worst nightmare.

Instead of trying to corral your GenXers onto the anointed path, keep them on target by giving them ownership of their projects and tasks, with clearly delineated goals and dates-due. Step back, and let them at it!

A 2011 survey from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) found that nearly three-quarters of GenXers (70%) prefer to work independently, and that the great majority of them value having control over their work, not only in terms of how they approach the work itself, but also includes their preference for flexible work hours and location (home/office).

GenXers are highly entrepreneurial. You can put those skills to work even within the framework of your department or company. All it takes is a willingness to let your GenXers be in charge of how they get the work done (within agreed-upon boundaries, of course), and acknowledge their brilliance in getting the work done.


Management Success Tip #147: Retain Your Up-Coming Gen-X Managers: Offer Flexible Work Alternatives

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Gen-Xers, individuals in their late 30s and 40s, are the new management backbone, and as such, are vital to your company. Yet too often, businesses complain that Gen-Xers, once trained and apparently a great fit for a position, up and leave at the drop of a hat.

Indeed, a 2011 survey from the Center for Talent Innovation  (CTI) showed that 37% of Gen-Xers have “one foot out the door” and were looking to leave their current employers within three years.

This can be disastrous for your company, not to mention a drain on resources, since once a qualified, trained, Gen-Xer leaves, you must fill that management position, incurring new costs of recruitment, training and so on.

One of the key ways to retain those Gen-Xers you are loathe to lose, is to offer flexible alternatives to the 9 – 5, on-site, norm. CTI research shows that fully 66% of Gen-X women, and 55% of Gen-X men, with and without children in the household, want better work-life balance, including flexible work arrangements (both in terms of time and place) and schedules.

Ask your Gen-Xers how they want to structure their work, time-wise and location-wise, and do your very best to accommodate their preferences. You’ll find that productivity does not diminish, on the contrary, when Gen-Xers can work how, where, and when they choose, productivity and performance benefit, and retention greatly increases.

Management Success Tip #61: Wanna Keep Best GenXers? Make Sure the Job Fits!

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Imagine you’re the coach of a basketball team. You want to keep your best players in the game, right? Yet you can’t prevent scouts from other teams taking a “look-see” at your players, and you certainly can’t prevent your rising stars from checking out if they can better their chances by joining other teams. Contracts, as has been said more than once, were made to be broken . . .

You’re in similar straits with your best employees, especially your GenXers. They’ve been in the game long enough to know there are other “teams” in town, willing to offer them better paychecks and/or perks. Even if that isn’t the case, even if moving out of your company isn’t moving up, GenXers are far more likely than previous generations to make lateral moves from one company to the next.

How can you keep your best GenXers in your game? One of the ways is to provide them with a good fit.

A good fit means that you periodically take a look at how the job/position your GenXer has been assigned to matches his or her skills, talents, abilities and aspirations. You don’t take for granted that if you’re not hearing employee-squawks, all is well. People change, people grow, people’s ambitions develop. You proactively assess whether or not what you are asking of your GenXer today is in line with their changing self, growth and ambitions.

Part of that assessment is, of course, to discuss the subject openly with your GenXer. Transparency is an increasingly valued attribute.

Provide a good fit, one that changes and evolves as your GenXer employee changes and evolves, and you’re far more likely to keep him or her in your game.

Management Success Tip #50: GenXers: Support Excellence In Our Next Generation of Leaders!

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Baby Boomers may linger–seemingly forever–but they are indeed leaving the ranks of leaders, and in a decade or two at most, will be gone entirely. Well, all right, there may be a few stalwarts hanging on, but they will be very very few . . .

Savvy businesspeople have known this and have been cultivating the best and brightest of the upcoming GenXers for years. But what about the rest of them? What about the 90%+ of your GenXers not currently groomed for promotion? Are they to be forgotten again, as has happened so often to this generation?

That would be a dreadful waste of human potential and business capital! There are phenomenal employees within your unexplored GenXers who just need some nurturance to become good supervisors, department heads and upper management. To support their growth, consider the following:

1. Provide lots of on-line and on-site training (as budget allows) in a variety of disciplines. GenXers enjoy learning, and are more responsive when learning isn’t solely targeted to their immediate job.

2. Give your GenXers opportunities to learn what goes on in different departments, whether that’s by having them assigned to an experienced “buddy” for a short stint in an unfamiliar department, or by encouraging lateral moves through the company.

Trader Joe’s” employees literally rotate positions throughout the store during the course of a single day, such that every employee learns most of the store’s positions. This is good for the company, but also for the employee, who doesn’t get stale and bored manning the cashier booth day in day out, for example.

3. GenXers are the most entrepreneurial generation that’s come along in quite a while. Encourage your GenXers to head up projects, or take the lead on teams. It’s good training for future leaders, and will allow those who are particularly adept to rise to the challenge and provide you with yet another valuable pool of leaders.

Management Success Tip #43: Terrific Managers Are Made, Not Born

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Many are worried that as the Boomers retire from the workplace, there will be a dearth of nose-to-the-grindstone, driven, work-comes-first managers. And that may be true. The Boomers are probably the last generation willing to sacrifice family, friends, hobbies, and a balanced life for their place in the corporate sun.

However, the upcoming GenXers, next in line for leadership positions, can take the place of the outgoing Boomers if they are properly supported to do that.

What is proper support for a GenXer?

1. Lots of opportunities for learning.

GenXers respect leaders who have genuine knowledge and expertise. As leaders, they want that for themselves. Give those GenXers you hope to promote to managerial positions dedicated training time in the various functions they’ll need to know about.

2. A good Boomer mentor.

Lots of Boomers want to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained through their long careers. Pair up your GenXer future leaders with willing Boomers. Tell both of them to set aside their criticisms of how the other does whatever, and instead, focus on the job at hand. The Boomer’s is to show how he or she manages, and the GenXer’s is to absorb as much of that management expertise as possible.

Obviously, you can’t “make” a terrific manager out of a shiftless, uncooperative employee. But you certainly can give a willing, engaged GenXer the support and skills he or she requires to become the dynamite manager your business deserve.