Council Post: Elevate Your Company's Gen X Leaders Through Empathy And Equity

As Gen Xers enter the middle stage of their careers, organizations can use two key tactics to support their success.

Council Post: Elevate Your Company's Gen X Leaders Through Empathy And Equity

Inspirant Group CEO and cofounder Culture Champion. People Enthusiast.

Getty I was 40 years old when I was looking at my friends, most of whom had successful careers and families. As Gen Xers, I realized that we were now entering middle age, a stage in life that I refer to as "The Squeeze". This is when you have a lot of work experience, but still have years to go before retiring. The pressures on personal and professional life are increasing exponentially. You have to be there for your family and work colleagues, and you must also take care of yourself. There's also the constant pandemic, overwhelm burnout, global unrest, and the "great resignation". Although the Squeeze years can be hard, organizations that have a lot of Gen X employees may be able to take steps to improve their professional lives.

Research has shown that empathy can improve interpersonal relationships and is a key benefit in the workplace. It is vital that executives incorporate empathy into their management strategies. Many people confuse empathy with sympathy. They are two very distinct concepts. Brene Brown, a social scientist, has the best explanation. Empathy is the ability to connect with another person's pain and associate it with our own pain. Sympathy, on the other hand, is about holding someone's pain at arm's length without getting into their emotions. Empathy can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it creates an emotional bond. These are four ways that organization leaders can bring more empathy to the workplace.

Pay attention to the stories of others with an open mind and the intention to understand them. Pay attention to what is being said and not spend too much time pondering what the answer will be. * Be curious. Make it your mission to discover the truth. While you may be able to learn something new, your employees will feel valued. * Find commonalities. Our commonalities make us more human and give us something to bond around.

Share personal stories when it is relevant. This creates an emotional connection between your employees and reminds them that they are human too.

Ensure Equity

Beyond practicing empathy, organizations can support the Gen X leaders who are feeling The Squeeze by engaging in equity. It's important to recognize that equity isn't the same as equality. While they're connected, equality is based on the belief that all people should have the same resources and opportunities to be successful regardless of their status or position. Equity, on the other hand, recognizes that some people face more adverse conditions and circumstances when attempting to achieve the same goals as those who have more advantages.

Rise, a social justice organization, has a great way to describe the difference. "Equality means giving everyone the same pair. Equity means that everyone gets a pair of shoes that fit. Trevor Noah, comedian, offers another explanation: "People love the expression, 'Give man a fish and he'll have a meal for a day.' Teaching a man how to fish will make him eat for his entire life. They don't mention, however, that it would be nice to give him a fishing rod. This is the missing part of the analogy.

Generation X is the first one with an almost equitable labor force of men and women. Thus, equitable workplace practices are particularly important. Here are some ways that organizations can center equity.

• Review existing policies and procedures, including recruiting efforts and pay history to make sure that all talent, no matter their gender, race or religion, has an equal chance at success.

• Give all employees development opportunities. During the interview and onboarding process, find out what employees really want to gain over the course of their career. Then, map out a customized path to help them attain those goals.

• Encourage new ideas and feedback, and set up programs and incentives for team members to share. This is a great engagement and motivation strategy.

• Believe your employees. Take complaints seriously and address them right away to avoid causing anger and resentment. Employees should have a sense of psychological safety so they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, especially about difficult situations.

  • Hold leaders responsible for their behavior and actions. Teach them emotional intelligence and don’t allow toxic behavior to slide.

Leadership and the employee experience are evolving. What worked before won't work today, and what works today may not tomorrow. What will always be important is taking care of emerging leaders so they feel encouraged to grow. This will ensure success for them and for the organization as a whole.

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