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.

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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.