As I mentioned in my last blog post, if given an opportunity, Gen X employees can learn new technologies and improve productivity of your business. In this blog I will talk about the practical approach of how to better train Gen X employees. But before I talk about that, let me ask you one question. As a Manager or as a Leader, what do you think when it comes to training Gen X employees of your company? Let me help you. Most of you might be thinking of the following:
* Gen X employees are technophobic.
* They’re resistant to almost any changes in how they work.
* They require too much hand-holding and training compared to Gen Y team members.
* They insist on doing things “old school.”
Before you say that Gen X employees are old school or technophobic, remember that they are the people who put a man on the moon and gave us a computer at every desk. Most of the Gen X people are not afraid of technology, they just don’t have the same relationship with it that Gen Y people do. Gen Y people are “technological people” – if you will. Some of them hardly even write anything anymore as most of them use computers to describe their thoughts.
Let me tell you one real story. In my last job, I used to work under a Gen X Manager. She was very talented and intelligent individual. People used to take tips from her all over the organization for her Management style. But she had one problem. She was used to using Excel for Project Management instead of other technological advanced tools, made for Project Management. During that time, I was given an opportunity to lead a team of 5 and finish one project. I had to provide my Project Plan for the same purpose. Guess what happened? Being from Gen Y, I created my Project Plan in Microsoft Project. She was very surprised at first, as no one else had used this tool before in her group. She insisted on using Excel for the reporting of the weekly status. But instead of doing that I talked her in to providing a basic training program for Microsoft Project. The deal was simple, I got a chance to present the new technology in front of the entire team, if they don’t like it they don’t use it. I knew that if I get her team’s approval then I might stand a good chance. Guess what happened next? After that training, she was really excited about this tool. It was not me who changed her working style other than convincing her to let me give the training. I think those advantages that came with this new tool convinced her to change her working style. Now, she uses Microsoft Project as her primary tool for Project Management.
Thus, if you are serious about training your Gen X employees to adopt to new technologies, you should show them actual, practical examples of people who use these tools and the results they get. If you want to teach them how to use skype for talking to your remote employees, then don’t just give them skype installer, show them how to use it, and let them have some feel for it. Trust me, they will get used to it. This doesn’t mean that we have to spoon feed them. With availability of new tools like “Google”, they can learn lot of stuff by themselves. In fact, Gen X people tend to learn on their own and prefer to learn from live people as opposed to recorded tutorials, like Gen Y.
Don’t just put “learning new tools” as a performance measurement criteria. Give them a good reason to change their methods, show them how to use the new tool, give them time to practice, give plenty of encouraging feedback and reward the change. When you do all these, you’ll be amazed how well Gen X and Gen Y employees will use these tools and make your business even more efficient.
I hope my article was helpful and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
June 6, 2011 at 9:13 AM
I’m thinking you have your generations a bit mixed up. You are describing the stereotype of the boomers. And Gen Xers did not put a man on the moon – the oldest Gen Xer was 9 when that happened. Desktop computers were of limited use in the early 70’s, not reaching widespread use until the late 70’s and 80’s. So again, you have Gen Xers who were either busy being born, or they were in their teen years when they were getting those desktops out.
June 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM
@Jen: Since, there is no accurate time line to define Gen X and Gen Y, I consider Gen X as those people who were born in 60s and 70s, while Gen Y generation would be someone born in 80s, 90s or 2000s.
I hope, this should help you to clear your doubt. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi