Where in the World is Gen X?

My favorite game when I was a kid was “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” Mainly because I was a geography nerd and more than likely still am. Carmen is akin to Gen X. Where are they? Contrary to all things Millennial, Gen X still exists. They do exist? Yes, yes they do. The Millennial epidemic has caused us to look at both extremes. On one end of the spectrum you have the 20 something’s and on the other end you have the 60 something’s. All of the talk and literature is about Gen Y and Baby Boomers. Which makes sense right? Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce and Millennials are just getting their foothold.

I sat with one of the partners at our firm, a Baby Boomer himself, discussing this topic. As we began to list the names of whom we work with (when you’re a small business you can do this, if you work at a larger company start with your team or department) and what generation they belong to, we came to find out our focus was all wrong. Do this exercise with your own company, team, or department and I think you’ll be surprised. It wasn’t about me, this free thinking, naïve, taker of all things good, entitled Millennial. But, it also wasn’t about this salt and pepper haired, tenured sweet talker, more experience than I could dream of Baby Boomer either. The Gen X list was not only longer than we thought but, also included primary decision makers. But, wait Nicole – you’re telling me we need to focus on the neglected middle child?

Focus? Not necessarily but, I do think it’s important to know that Gen X didn’t just disappear or ALL take sabbaticals to the beaches of Spain and never return. The reason I finally bring up Gen X is not because they’re the most tech savvy, obviously we are as Millennials, nor are they packing the most years of success under their belt but, rather they’re imperative when it comes to Knowledge Transfer.

Knowledge Transfer involves sharing the brain trust of those Baby Boomers about to exit the workforce. Experts and those claiming to be experts have been asking the question, how do we get our 60 something’s to talk with our 20 something’s? That question is where the failure begins. Your Baby Boomers don’t necessarily need to be transferring knowledge directly to Millennials. Eureka – I give you Gen X, more often than not in middle management or senior leadership, to whom Millennials are reporting.

The idea of Knowledge Transfer makes sense – especially in an age where the capacity of the mind is worth more than any “product” out there, if it weren’t there would be no such thing as a “service industry.” Baby Boomer knowledge transfer is filtered to Gen X who then utilizes those tools to ensure Millennials are prepared with the appropriate brain trust.

Where in the world is Gen X? Be a Gum Shoe and find them. They’re right there under your nose completing performance reviews, winning business, and directing corporate strategy. Don’t forget Gen X, make sure they’re prepared with Baby Boomer expertise and Millennials will be better for it.

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