Managing Up Through the Generations

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Someone recently asked me, “What happens when a Gen Y employee is promoted to a managerial level and starts working with Gen X colleagues? Do they become more X-ish? Or stay as a Gen Y?”

Here’s my answer: Every individual has deeply ingrained generational and personal values. Gen X generally values independence, pragmatism, focus, metrics/results and financial freedom. Gen Y generally values connections, making a difference, balance and global diversity. As the generations mature though life, these values will remain the same and adapt to the new life circumstance.

For example, if Phillippe, a Gen X manager, has a baby, he will still value financial freedom and pragmatism. However, instead of just focusing on his own financial freedom, he will also focus on taking realistic steps to achieving financial freedom for his child. And if Eliza, a Gen Y manager, just got married, she will likely find ways to balance her life’s priorities through her online connections.

So what happens when Marie is promoted to Phillippe’s level? Will she become more X and less Y? No. She will always have her Y tendencies; it’s just who she is. And the more you understand each generation’s values, the better you’ll work with everyone on your team.

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