Gen X are typically in their 40’s and 50’s now with at least twenty years of work experience behind them. One would expect, their careers would be in their peaks now; they would be getting promoted fast and leading most critical parts of the organizations they work in; their juniors would be looking up to them for guidance and inspiration. One should see them in great demand among head-hunters. But, the reality is different, isn’t it?
Why is Gen X not in great demand?
Millions of young talent join the workforce in India each year. These millennials are ambitious and driven to find success. They do not hesitate to drop the mantle and move on as soon as they do not find it interesting. They want to take quick decisions and do not want to brood over it for long.
Coincidentally, businesses have become uncertain and volatile. Hence, they are trying to be flexible in their plans and execution. They are increasingly digitized and automated; therefore, repetitive tasks do not necessarily require old hands. Rather, young minds, tech-savvy thoughts and fresh pairs of hands of the millennials fit into the new reality way better than the Gen X. However, can an organization grow with the millennials?
Growth for the organization
Organizations need to grow and thus, want to nurture leaders for their future. Do Gen X employees get the preference over the millennials?
Millennial workforce looks for continuous progress in their work life in terms of the role they perform, the impact they deliver and the money they earn. This propensity is higher than that of Gen X. Organizations know the need of holding on to the millennials and putting them on a path of growth. Hence, they tend to prioritize fulfilling the needs and aspirations of millennials over that of the Gen X.
The road for Gen X is not closed. For decision making roles, one needs people who have gained deep insights into the industry and the global environment. While millennials are put on a growth path, the value of having weathered a wide variety situations is unparalleled. Hence, Gen X folks need to make sure that their years of experience translate into knowledge and insights which are deployed at work to deliver greater impact. The responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the employee than the company one is working for.
Who should plan for the career growth?
It is easy to say that the employer has to plan for its human resources, Gen X included. However, we must understand, their certain aspects of our life which we are primarily responsible for, such as health, finance and career. Employer is a big stakeholder in the process, but one cannot outsource this responsibility to the employer.
Gen X employees need to understand the ground realities. Accordingly, they need to train their minds to be more aware of the new developments, train themselves on new methods and tools, look for opportunities to learn and apply the newly acquired knowledge wherever possible. They need to actively seek the support of their managers and peers to take up challenging tasks, learn new skills and continuously improve.
Organizations need to identify roles which need the depth of experience and develop people continuously so that career paths are clear. And similarly, they must state clearly the roles where the outlook is for a short term, say 1 year or 2 years, what competencies are needed to excel there, how performance is evaluated and what happens next based on the performance assessment.
We have to explain to our employees that an operator of a CNC machine can grow into the role of Manufacturing Head; a sales officer can become a Vice President – Sales. The paths have to be clear. And at the same time, we have to clarify how a Senior Manager could remain stuck in the same role for a decade and younger people could move many levels up.
Our economy is growing and will continue to do so. Growth opportunities are plenty. We need to discover a path to reach there. The path could be arduous sometimes, but not impossible.