An Open Letter To Millennials from a Gen-Xer

Dear Millennial Friend,

Let me introduce myself. I am from Generation X and I am proud of it.  I am writing so you can get to know me and vice versa.  As an Xer, I’ve taught, worked with and managed many Millennials. And for me to be able to work well with you, I need to get to know your generation better.

I know it isn’t fair to describe anyone in a general perspective.  It is very important to recognize
that not everybody in any particular group acts like everyone else.  But many people of the same age range share similar experiences that shape perceptions and work-styles.  So let me address this letter to the Millennial age group.

You see, dear Millennial, we probably belong to two of the biggest generations in the workplace right now.  Okay, we could only be next to you, we should admit that!  Yes, there’s the entry of the Gen Zs now, but as of this time, you, Millenials will be the next generation of managers. 

Much has been said about Millennials.  In the workplace, you are very creative and companies would want you for that, but people of other generations has also labeled your age group to be highly entitled, always wanting to be praised and not used to hard work.  Some say that you want it all.  They say you want the power, the title, and the high salary immediately….wanting everything fast and driven by instant gratification.  Millennials are said to have the potential to become high achievers but still others may see you as over-confident and self-absorbed. 

You might even be tagged as professional job-hoppers, as you go from one company to another.  But I believe this is just one of the misconceptions about people of your age.  

In my opinion, you are just eager and anxious about the future, that is why you are looking for more satisfying positions where you can be so much happier.  Despite all the negative connotations, your fresh and innovative ideas, without a doubt, can bring something to the table. In fact, I could say that you see the world as full of opportunities and you welcome

Now since working together is inevitable, we must try to understand each other.  Our work ethics and values, our perceptions and the way we live.  Maybe we can teach each other a thing or two and find some common ground so we can have a beautiful working relationship. 

Let me just start by describing how we are and maybe next time, you can tell us your side of the story. And somehow, maybe we can bridge the so-called generation gap:

  1. Gen X-ers have the ability to collaborate and work with others to get things done at work. We are comfortable in working with people.   But at the same, there is a tendency  for us to be more independent. X-ers tend to be very task-oriented.  You can present to us any problem and we will innovate and finds ways to creatively solve them.  So, when working with this generation, don’t be surprised or offended if there will be times that we may choose to work alone. 
  2. Gen X-ers are entrepreneurial and basically, results-oriented.  We will not tell you what and how to do your job. We would like to be hands-off, so I would advise you to talk to us and clearly discuss expectations before you get into work.
  3. Not a lot of Gen-Xers were praised while growing up.  We are described as skeptics, we grew up questioning everything.  But please don’t take them personally.  We will tell you the advantages and disadvantages to bring out the best in your tasks and ideas.   And when you receive a recognition or praise from us,  that would mean that you have done a really great job
  4. Gen X was actually the first generation to grow up with computers and somehow, technology is inextricably woven into our lives. We are comfortable with PDAs, smartphones, email, laptops, tablets, and other technology. Believe it or not, studies had shown that Xers are the most connected generation based on the amount of time spent on digital/tech endeavours. However, we must admit that we admire how extremely techno-savvy your generation is and we would like to be coached on the wonders of new technologies. You take technology proficiency up a notch and it’s no secret that you currently corner the market in tech prowess.  You view technology as an extension of yourself. More than a hobby, technology is a lifestyle for you and you are native tech users.  We would surely appreciate it if you can coach us on the wonders of the new technologies
  5. We believe that the path to success is long and hard.  Authority resides in the corporate structure.  Progress, promotion, and success come from years of hard work, experience and expertise.  Our superiors can be a source of our motivation and their leadership is our driving force to work hard.  A simple recognition or a positive note is more than enough to keep our morale high.  We, generally embrace feedback. As means of improvement, we take criticisms constructively . That’s why Millennials shouldn’t be shocked with critical feedback.  
  6. We understand that you value work-life balance.  But do you know that Generation X was actually the first to introduce the idea of a solid work-life balance into the workforce?  This is one reason why workplace flexibility is one of the most important perks for us and some of us will also walk away from our current jobs if there isn’t flexibility.  In other words, we also value our personal lives.

Our generations (X and Millenials) have a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can share.  In fact, I should say all generations!  We need to understand the values that we have.  We need to learn and understand the differences between generations.  When we understand what makes different generations “tick,” we can prevent divisions and conflict.

You see, it doesn’t really matter how experienced we are or (how old we are), we are all aware of the value of respect.  We are willing to adjust and respect the talent and potentials of your generation, the Millennials, and the next ones.  We can only respect one another if we fully understand our differences, especially those pertaining to work styles.   

And so, to end my letter to you, I would like to invite the Millennials to write me back and give us the chance to get to know and understand you more.  As I’ve said, much has been said about Millennials. This time, let it come directly from you, straight from your heart.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Your Friendly Gen-Xer Co-worker

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