The new generation of leaders often have a completely different way of working from their older counterparts.
While boomers usually view long hours as evidence of loyalty and hard work, Gen X and Y tend to try to have more work/life balance. They’ve seen their parents’ lack of quality of life, and the lack of loyalty companies showed to these hard-working parents in the 1990s, and they’re not impressed.
They want flexible hours, more vacation time, continuous training, and telecommuting options. They expect to leverage technology to work efficiently, instead of staying late in the office to get everything done.
Boomers have traditionally felt that they have to “pay their dues” to their company – and if someone hates their job, that’s just part of life. Generations X and Y typically don’t accept this; they want rewarding, intellectually stimulating work – and they don’t want someone watching them too closely to check on their progress. These new groups are independent, creative, and forward thinking. They celebrate cultural diversity, technology, and feedback, and they prefer more of a “lattice” or individualized approach to management (as opposed to the traditional “corporate ladder”).
The new generations also tend to like teamwork. Studies have shown that colleague relationships rank very high on Gen X and Y’s list of priorities. Things like salary and prestige can often rank lower than boomers might expect, or might want for themselves.
Many have talked about how Gen X and Y seem always ready to leave one company and move onto something better, as soon as there’s an opportunity. While it’s true that they usually won’t stay with a job if they’re unhappy – as boomers often did – this doesn’t mean they aren’t serious or loyal.
It simply means that if a company wants to keep the best and brightest leaders in their organisation, they need to offer them an environment geared to their values.