A middle child. I know it well. I was raised in a family of 4 children, the only other middle was the only boy. I play the role of the middle child in my family. At work, I play it, too…as a member of the Gen X generation.
We are the Generation X (and some Y) –
We’re the helpers, guiders, mediators, and team connectors. We play a significant role in joining people together, negotiating from two or more perspectives, living under, above, and beneath.
We’re also the forgotten generation: the generation that exists but only in small part, with indifference and insignificance. We are the generation that survived our early careers through a recession. We struggled to find jobs and landed in employment that wasn’t ideal but was necessary. Our colleagues were our elders by a decade or more.
Yet, we understand you, The Baby Boomer generation-
The oldest child, the generation we Gen Xers joined early in our careers, the generation that flooded the workforce years before we left elementary. You were there first. You made the rules. You busted down barriers and formed and reformed the status quo. You fought to change the world and make it better for the people like us who followed.
You were teachers. You learned things first and challenged us to learn them faster and better. You shared insight, you mentored, you coached. You planned. We depended on you for safety, stability, strategy.
We see your challenges as you raise children and care for your aging parents. We see you exchange a 30 year career of passion and dedication, loyalty and love. We see your hesitation as you leave your legacy to the unknown – as you pass your baton to those who come after.
We understand you, The Millennial Generation-
The youngest children, the generation that has been joining the workforce in numbers, challenging the status quo and wanting to be heard. We see your passion, your indifference to the status quo, your hope for impact, love, and change. We see your desire to make waves. We were there, too…not long ago.
We see the value you bring to the world of work: the breath of fresh air each of your ideas resembles. We want your ideas about work/life balance to become our reality too…and believe it or not, all generations agree with your values. We just don’t know how to bridge the divide and become one together.
And that’s where we, the middle children, play a critical role. We have thrived and survived with you both. We hear your outrage and questions and fear. We mediate, negotiate, translate. We build teams with seasoned and vibrant ideas: teams that challenge the status quo together.
We help you speak…to each other. We bridge the gap.
We are the middle children. We are your helpers.
What situations have you experienced where the generational divide helped to create stronger, better results for the organization? What were key strategies used to achieve these results?