I often feel like I am stuck between generations. I do not identify with Millennials who are motivated by excessive praise and recognition and I do not identify with Generation Xs who are motivated simply by high paychecks. Somewhere in between Generation X and Millennials lies a sub-generation and this is the generation I identify with – as do most of the people I associate with.

Defining a (sub)generation

This generation never knew a workplace without the Internet and thus we have different ideas of how fast things should happen then our Generation X bosses. However, unlike Millennials we do not use social media to discuss our personal lives and we are wary of posting personal information on sites like Facebook and Twitter. We do not require constant supervision nor do we require constant praise to stay motivated. For us, getting paid what we feel we are worth is important, but we do not measure our success by the size of our paychecks alone. I like to call us “Generation US” as many of us realize we don’t really belong to any group and we seek each other out.  – (but we’ll see if that catches on). Our generation isn’t so much about the year you are born, (although most of us are born between 1979 and 1983) but about our attitudes towards work, our social life and new technologies. We aren’t early adaptors, but we do not necessarily wait to for new technologies to become mainstream before we purchase them.

How to motivate

So how do you motivate people for whom money is not everything? “Generation US” wants a balance between work and their personal life so a job well done can be rewarded with an extra day off or even just the go ahead to leave a couple of hours early. I know if I was told I could take next Friday off because of a great job on a project it would motivate me to continue doing well.

The people I talk to who feel like they are part of this sub-generation often say they like to feel like their work matters. Not all of us are doctors or nurses or firefighters so we look for meaning in our work in other ways. For example, an events manager might be motivated by a thank you note from the couple whose reception they planned. I like to know that my efforts actually affect the company so when I complete a project being told how it will benefit the company and why this is important always makes me feel good. And then of course small bonuses don’t hurt either (everyone likes money and we all need more of it, no matter how much we make).

How to manage us

Unlike Millennials those who belong to Generation Us do not require constant supervision, hand holding or praise. In fact, of us appreciate a little room to be creative and even make mistakes. However, we do want to know that someone is there to bounce ideas off of and thus we like to work in small groups of equally dedicated employees. We love collaboration because when we come up with an idea it can be fine tuned or even loved by the group just the way it is. This consensus makes us feel like the idea is better than if we just came up with it on our own. This also means we do not need all the “credit” for a project. We have no problem sharing and working as a team.

The best way to manage my sub-generation is to give guidelines and let us come up with the rest. The projects I enjoy working on the most are the ones where I am given some basic information (we are announcing a new product) and I come up with the communications strategy myself. But we also want to know that our ideas are considered as well. We like to know that if we come up with a new way of doing something or a new idea for a project or initiative our bosses won’t say “we don’t have time for that” or “how will that fit into the budget” we want to know that our creativity will be nurtured.

 

When giving criticism it is important to note that while we aren’t as sensitive or easily discouraged as Millennials we do need to be told we are doing well, however not as often as Millennials. A formal quarterly review would be all it takes for me to be sure I am on the right track or to understand what I can do to improve.  

Many of the people I went to college with fear nothing more than sitting at a desk all day starting at a computer screen. We do not want jobs that simply pay the bills. We want some meaning in our careers and to feel like we contribute to the greater good of our company and even the world.

I don’t believe that the sub-generation I feel I belong to is officially recognized. I know that we are lumped in with Millennials, but to manage “Generation Us” like you would manage the Gen X and Millennials would be a mistake.

Do any of you feel like you are stuck between generations? Do you have ideas on how you like ot be managed and motivated?

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