My life as a Millennial Consulting Associate Reporting to an Unnamed Gen Xer

Jenn Hoffer Communication, Culture, employee experience, Generations, Guest: Jenn Hoffer, Millenial Voice

Things this Millennial was not expecting when I hit the workplace? To have all my pop culture references and movie quote knowledge challenged by my Gen Xer boss – let’s call him Ari Gold to keep him anonymous. Holy cow! Do I have a list of movies that I need to catch up on now! So far, I’ve finally watched Office Space, (I know, I know), Mad Men, The Breakfast Club, Tropic Thunder, and Snatch. Ones that are still on my list? Billions, Moneyball, Boiler Room, Pursuit of Happyness, Jerry Maguire, Wolf of Wall Street, and the list goes onnnnnnnn. Feel free to add to my list in the comments. And apparently there are valuable lessons I can learn in them about office life, relating to people, and how to manage people. I might work for Mr. Miyagi. #WaxOnWaxOff

In the past, I haven’t really paid attention to the stereotypes of each generation. I kind of hate labels – which now that I think about it is probably the most Millennial thing I could say. But as we’ve had more and more clients come to us to facilitate training directly tied to managing each generation – how to communicate, motivate, coach, etc. – I’ve done a lot of research into the topic and see how both managers and employees are struggling to relate and work through issues. I’ve even been able to see how some of the differences between my Gen X boss and me are directly related to our generations.

Here are 3 common areas that Gen X and Millennials experience disconnect. I’ll list the characteristics and how Ari Gold and I overcame them.

  1. Authority/Trust


Gen X ViewMillennial View
  • Boss has all the experience and knowledge;
  • Access to authority is limited and must be earned
    • But once I’m in, I’m in with a Gen Xer
  • Experience doesn’t mean you have all the answers
  • Can gain knowledge through research on the internet
  • Open door policy with bosses
  • Encouraged to ask questions of authority

When I first started working at Kinetix, I worked for a different boss but supported Ari Gold indirectly as he needed. I didn’t realize at the time his trust was difficult to earn, and there was only a handful of people who had access to him and had his trust. Honestly, I thought he hated me for 6 months, but over time, he started giving me certain tasks to help him. I worked hard to earn his trust, and now, I’m in. He trusts me, shares his knowledge/experience, and provides me autonomy to make decisions, lead projects, and help build out our consulting practice. I know I can bring any question or problem to him, and he’ll help me grow. This is really important to us Millennials.

  1. Communication
Gen X ViewMillennial View
  • Straight talk – direct
  • Want you to get to the point
  • Use language to paint visual pictures

I’m over here waxing poetic around what’s going on with projects, the work I’ve done, and the questions I have, and Ari Gold’s head is about to explode with all the details I’m giving him. I learned quick to pull that one back and give him the bullet points version in 10 seconds or less. He also had to learn that sometimes I need more information than what he instinctually provides to me.

  1. Motivation & The Why


Gen X ViewMillennial View
  • Do it my way
  • Forget the rules
  • Innovate
  • Independent
  • But why are we doing this?
  • What’s the purpose in my work and career?

Ari is great at bridging this gap between us. When we first started working together, he would often explain different actions and the why behind them so that I fully understood, and after a while, he would ask me to summarize why I thought what we were doing was important and how it fit in to the overall picture.

I hear all the time people complaining about Millennials’ short tenure at their companies or that they just can’t understand why they do or don’t do things. People in general are complicated, and just like any relationship, we must work to understand each other. I’ve been with Kinetix for 6 years since I graduated college. Want to know why? My Gen X boss.

He put the effort in upfront to know how we could best work together and coached me to do the same instead of brushing me off as some Millennial. He pushes me to see who I could be in my career and how to get there, encourages me, provides me with coaching on the positives and negatives, pushes me outside my comfort zone (a lot), and yes, makes me learn all the best movies and pop culture references that I can handle. I stay because of my boss.