Donna Strickland Blog

Leadership: Are Your Gen X’ers Engaged?

Keep Track of Your Leadership Talent


Leadership to Engage Gen X’ers and Boomers needs to be reconsidered post Recession 2008.  Things are not the same.  Gen X’ers are those  born between 1965-1978, and there are about 46 million of them.  They actually have more influence in the workplace than Baby Boomers or the Millennials.  They are thought to be a critical group when it comes to back filling Leadership for the Boomers who ordinarily would be preparing to retire.  It’s just that we had this little ole dip in our 401k’s.  So the Gen X’ers are restless.  Boomers are trying to hold on a few more years to sock away some more dough.  The Millennials see this as a fine time to move on in.

Many of the Gen X’ers are primed and ready to lead.  You’ve been grooming them even.  Some of them are in the prime time of their careers. They have a great deal of influence in an organization, though their numbers seem small (48 million versus Boomers at 78 million).

Quite a number of Boomers were preparing for retirement, or cutting back.  But when you lose half of your lifetime savings, everything changes.  You’ve likely been mentoring these folks to move into leadership positions, and everything has shifted.  You don’t want them to fly the coop!  Leadership needs to keep these folks engaged in meaningful and challenging work.

A good percentage of the Gen X’ers are ready to walk.  I’ve seen studies that range from 35-40%.  Remember these folks are natural born entrepreneurs.  They need to be deeply involved in learning and being challenged.

What can you do to hold onto them?

Give them significant projects to lead, with the spotlight on them.  Let them be glorious and talented.  Give them major credit and kudos for their work.

  1.  Rotate them into interesting positions throughout the company, and overseas, to teach them the various aspects of the business and increase their cultural competencies at the same time.
  2. Have them teach within the organization their specialized skills and perspective.
  3. Assign them to a C Suite Leader to be mentored or to shadow them on a particular project that is significant to the overall organization
  4.  Give them a Special Venture Project to lead.

And, while your at all this…. don’t forget you may have Boomers who are going to be with you for another 10 years.  You must in parallel, be providing an environment in which they will be motivated.  Forget about them too long, and you’ll see resentment building.  And, You know what that’s like….

What are you doing in your organization to keep your Gen X’ers engaged?  What are you doing to re-engage your Boomers who were ready to leave before the Recession hit?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

All the best,


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