There is much written about the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations battling it out in the workplace. On the one hand, Millennials are questioning the status quo. On the other hand, Baby Boomers are struggling to understand why Millennials are acting like errant children, who can’t play by the rules. And, in the middle of it all, quietly sandwiched between these two generations, is Generation X.
Hey, remember them?
They are the ones who saw the possibility of technology; the ones who saw the complexity of relationships through their parent’s divorce; the ones who did not need a trophy for just showing up; and the ones who learned to become independent because both parents work, or they lived in a single parent household, making them “latchkey kids.”
Baby Boomers are turning 65, the average retirement age, which translates into 8,000 Boomers retiring each day. What does this mean for the workforce? This means that there will be gaps at the leadership level, and Generation X is perfectly poised to fill the leadership vacancy, as they have the experience and the qualifications to assume leadership roles. With Gen Xers’ unique experience with technology, cultural shifts and their independence, it would make them the perfect heir apparent, right?
No, not so fast!
Unfortunately, Xers are stuck between Boomers and Millennials, which means there has not been a sufficient transfer of knowledge. So what are they to do? Get noticed. Here are three things a Gen Xer can do to help secure a leadership position that is being vacated by a Boomer.
- Tell ‘em What You Want
As a result of divorce or both parents working, Gen Xers had to go at it alone, making them more independent and responsible than that of Millennials. Although independence and responsibility are great characteristics to have, it can impede Xers’ ability to communicate what it is that they want. Part of a human resource professional’s job is succession planning, which means they identify top talent in the organization to develop for leadership roles. Tell management what you want to ensure you are included in succession planning discussions. Also, communicate your goals to your network, so they can help you achieve your goals.
- Get a Big Brother or Sister
Find a mentor in your organization who can help you define and address the obstacles that are preventing you from stepping into a leadership role. Your mentor should be someone who is highly valued in the organization, as this person will be a person who can vouch for your abilities. After all, what does a big brother or sister do? They look out for your best interests.
- It Just Takes Some Time
“It Just Takes Some Time,” which is a song by the band Jimmy Eats World, is a poignant reminder: once you have the skills and the experience to get to the next level, you’ll just need a little time to get there.
When stuck in the middle, get a little creative, make a little noise and you’ll get ahead.
Stephanie Hieken, Director of Operations and Client Relations at Quest Management Consultants, an OI Global Partners.