GenX: Graduates of the CubeWar Terrorist Training Camps.

These days, Baby Boomer managers often complain about their GenY employees (“kids these days…” but maybe Boomers should worry less about GenY (described by Marcus Buckingham as the generation who got prizes for coming 8th in a race). This week’s lesson is that you can’t win against GenX if you use the old-fashioned methods of business power broking.

There are still a lot of Boomer and Traditional managers who have days of thinking “I’ll do it my way, now I am the boss”, forgetting that the rules of the business game have changed … forever.

Deep in the cubicles of the corporate jungles, there is an army, trained to deal with their parents’ generation. One result is that the Boomer who thinks in terms of “my way or the highway” finds out that this only works if the person who is going to hit the highway is the Boomer him/herself.

Imagine you’re a Boomer and you don’t have your head in the game. You were born 1946-1964 (or perhaps you are a Traditionalist and born before ’46.)

Let’s assume you’re an innocent. You go to work to..um..work. You go home to socialize. You think you’re technologically sophisticated (yeah right!). You grew up in a world where you waited your turn for authority. You "paid your dues" by shutting-up-and-putting-up with stuff, until you got into a position of responsibility. Now it’s your turn and perhaps (like Frank Sinatra) you think you’re going to do it your way.

There are the Xers, and (even more frightening) GenY. They’re probably better educated than you are, and they can show you the *real* meaning of “technologically savvy” (they can fix an IPod). They think that they can do your job now. They need your salary to pay their college debt, so they have little interest in doing schlep jobs. They have the skills, energy, technological currency and innovative ability to do "the interesting stuff" now.

The Xers probably have the concentration to do some schlep jobs. The Millennials can’t focus that long, unless you praise them every ten minutes.

“Oh nooooooo” you say. “A promotion Ms X? No I need you there … with your techie skills. You are so not going anywhere. I’m the boss, and I pay the piper and I call the tune. A promotion? Get real, kid. It took me 20 years to get to this position.

That evening, over a glass of fine wine, you describe the unimpressed look on the Gen-Xer’s face to your significant other. But you’re in charge now, and your personal White House feels pretty darned good.

It seems that you forgot how the GenX and Y terrorists socialize in their work-life continuum. (They will even move jobs to be with their friends.) They have networks of GenX/Y friends throughout the company. They don't live in silos, like you do, and they bang out vast numbers of emails and texts to their whole network, hourly, while also keeping constant contact through their blurred work-social boundaries.

Hmmm… and perhaps you should have taken into consideration that the whole freaking IT department is Gen-X too, before you annoyed one of them.

GenXers use software to keep their to-do lists. [GenYs use the company software and back them up on the flashdrives they wear on their keyrings or in their necklaces ;) well some of them.]

Now your GenX has a number of tasks on the list. Your request has been done last. Why? you ask. There is a perfectly logical reason for tasks being done first, or last… sequencing. Your job just happens to be last today. Watch the GenXer’s "What is WRONG with you?" face as s/he shoves a handheld Blackberry-like device s under your nose, to show you the list.

Isn’t it strange how you are last on every list? In so many unconnected departments? Yesterday and tomorrow too? (Yup - you’re the last silo generation.)

Please don’t request anything verbally once you have annoyed a GenXer, as anything you ask for will be forgotten by all GenXers. When you ask again, the GenXer is puzzled: Did you ask Natasha or perhaps Darren? Please print the email and the GenXer will find the culprit and bring him/her to justice immediately! No email? NO EMAIL? *Gasp.* You must have asked Kimberli or Shawn, but no, it clearly wasn’t me.

If you ask for something by email, the GenXer will of course (eventually) give you what you asked for. Exactly what you asked for. And s/he will have filed the email which documented what you asked for. And the reply, and the confirmation that the reply was received, and opened. People on a GenXer’s good side get what they want, but you will get what you asked for, and exactly, and only that.

Yes… the power rules have changed, and the old system will never work again. The people who changed the rules are not going away - or if they do go away, you will be spending a lot of time and money begging them please, please to come back.

So the training camps are not only in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan. They’ve been downtown for a long time.

We gave birth to the new terrorists. They work for us, we work for them: they are our employees, potential employees, customers and suppliers.

Some days, I rather enjoy them.

Author's Bio: 

Glynis Ross-Munro has three degrees in psychology and education. She is an educationalist, ex-training manager, instructional designer, public speaker and educational thinker. Her small business, CPS, provides affordable customized learning solutions within a values-based framework.