Being Gen X in a Millennial's World

 Ever feel like this at the salon?  You might be Gen X.

Ever feel like this at the salon?  You might be Gen X.

I'm  hairdresser that lives on the cusp of Gen Y and Gen X.  The former is my bubbly, positive side and the latter is my cynical side.  I don't know who Lizzie MacGuire was.  I got a perm but never felt like a true part of the 80's jazzercise and I was too young to watch John Hughes films in theaters.  It's hard to choose to value the old when I pick up my old hair books and see the Rachel cut and zig zag parts as an example of high fashion, and completely embracing the new when the new involves instastars, glitter roots, and stylists glued to their phones.

The salon industry is catering to the Millennial workforce.  There are books like Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, which trains leaders on how to manage Gen Y.  DtH Master Series contributor Stefanie Fox has an amazing program designed for salon owners to understand what young hairdressers look for in their leaders.  Nick Arrojo and Neil TSP share training programs to grow Gen Y into leaders.  Laurel Nelson's article touts why Gen Y are salons' greatest assets.

About Gen Y: ' They are Gen X 2.0 - they have a lot of self esteem.'

Hey, Gen X has feelings too.  We just aren't emotionally driven.  There is an expectation that older hairdressers should have our shit together.  That we are leaders by the simple fact that we have lasted this long.  The Baby Boomer hairdresser is an endangered species and it seems like Gen X can now be listed as threatened.  We are leaders by default however...and I stress one is leading us.  

 We are torn.

We are torn.

We have mentors.  We have peers.  We have minions.  Salon managers and salon growth companies, however, overlook the management of us pessimistic-appearing but downright lovable as long as you appreciate dark humor and a love of 90's music Gen X (ish) hairdressers.  Gen X is the smallest group in the salon workforce and I'd be lying if I said we were difficult to manage.  


Actually, yes I would be.  We are not difficult.  We simply expect different things from owners and management.  We were the first generation of latchkey kids and have been independent since childhood.  Helicopter parenting/micro management are the punchline of a joke about Millennials to us.  We want expectations of us clearly stated, we like deadlines, we expect to be compensated for work with actual money instead of the promise of Instagram exposure, and when we clock out, work is over.

I imagine that if salon owners and managers read this, they would instantly know one or two hairdressers at work that fit this profile.  They might be labeled as the troublemakers or the naysayers. Take a moment and really let this sink in.  Destroy the notion that the salon team is one size/personality fits all.  It's doesn't have to be inevitable that Gen X will get fed up and start booth renting even though that is what's happening nationwide.  The question that needs to be asked is: What Do You Do To Keep Them?  We are in the minority in the salon world but we earn our salons the majority of the income.

How should Gen X be managed?  Check in as often with us as a youngblood.  Maybe not for as long, but please check in with us.  Make every policy count and stay consistent with the application.  We like praise too.  If we are more cynical than the majority, we are not unhappy.  It is just our way.  Use us as a salon Litmus test.  If management can get a Gen X stylist to be upbeat, you can be damn sure the venture will be a success.  Use us as Devil's Advocates; we usually see the flaws in the system and instead of being insulted, let us help you fix them.  

Get to know the Gen X hairdressers you work with.  At Destroy the Hairdresser, we don't believe it is X vs. Y, it is only with X + Y that we can make our industry stronger.