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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gen X: Surviving and Thriving

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the FIFTH post:

Surviving and Thriving for X’ers. Because about 95% of X’ers will be working in organizations for others—especially Boomers, who not only have a different work philosophy but also a propensity to hang on to their power, best to learn survival techniques sooner rather than later. Erickson offers several tips for increasing effectiveness at work:

1. Play to your strengths. Nobody ever succeeded by only shoring up their weaknesses. The way to get world class at a sport or a talent is to identify what your strengths are, communicate them to others, understand your liabilities and try to limit them, and know the difference between them both.

2. Create the Context for Your Success: Because work is a tightly woven social construct, X’ers, like all of us, must figure out the social framework of the company. This demands that we create and maintain a host of social relationships in order to get the support needed to have professional success.

3. Influence the Organization: The smartest people rarely become the CEOs of the world. Rather, leaders tend to come from the ranks of people who can discern the corporate rules (both written and unwritten), as well as the values, beliefs, characteristic of their particular organization. Thus, diagnosing the culture and working within it, makes X’ers more likely to be successful.

4. Understand each role you play: Things change! Now there’s a universal if ever I saw one. The key is can X’ers change as well? The role you play one day may be different the next as organizations shift and change. Understand a new role and allowing yourself the freedom to switch to it is not only helpful but healthy in corporate life.

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