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Does the Younger Generation Think We are the Idiots?

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Does the Younger Generation Think We are the Idiots?


We have all had an idiot for a boss at some point in our lives.  For some of us that pain is a present reality and for others it is a painful memory.  And, for others the experience is yet to come.  And if you ask the younger workers today, the disease is more prevalent in the workplace than we like to admit. The new worker of today’s high-technology work force seems to resist being led by many of the traditional, short-term focused managers and supervisors in the workplace today.  Today’s tough economy removes the natural camouflage that historically concealed the struggling managers in our businesses that seem to succeed when the economy was robust and anyone could make money. Business stress makes the bad leaders “stand out” in the crowd because every mistake they make has a more defined impact on the performance of the business. When a business is struggling, every decision has a more meaningful impact on the performance of the entire organization.  When the bad economy places more pressure on the organization, the decisions and corresponding results become amplified. 


Following are five critical indicators that will PREVENT your organization from attracting and retaining the best of young workers today:   


  • The best and talented members of your team choose to leave your team while the average and underperformers choose to stay. If you are not conducting exhaustive and detailed exit interviews to determine the “real” reason workers are leaving, management and supervision are probably the cause.  


  • Communication is limited to the problems and challenges while the positive success of your team goes ignored. This young generation thrives on information and more information and even more information.  Managers and supervisors cannot share too much business information with today’s young worker.  The need to process information (good and bad) is critical to keep workers engaged on the job.  Positive feedback is not only necessary; it is mandatory to keep the best workers engaged for your organization.


  • Training and development resources are limited when they are needed the most. The informed young worker understands that in tough economic times they are going to be asked to do more with less.  Intuitively, they have a clear understanding that learning becomes a competitive necessity rather than optional luxury as it has been in the past.


  • Social acceptance and “fun at work” are not viewed as an organizational imperative.  The organization of the past placed very little value in the social impact of today’s workplace.  If a young worker cannot experience some form of social connection at work, their priority will be on finding an organization that will provide a connection for this inherent need.  Forward thinking organizations are investing greatly to make the workplace a fun environment where people can spend time while performing the necessary tasks required to get paid.  The idea that “we are here to work” is simply not embraced by the emerging workforce of today.


  • Good morale is considered to be a by-product rather than the focus of management. Historically, most managers did not understand that morale equals productivity.  Management did not consider good morale as a prerequisite for the optimization of productivity.  For some organizations, morale was irrelevant.  These organization often managed by fear and intimidation.  Some used overt methods to create fear while in other organizations the fear was more subtle.

Bonus Clue:  

  • Necessary resources are scarce in the workplace. When times are tough, some managers make it more difficult for team members to perform daily functions.  The need to control spending and waste can actually become more costly to the organization.  Today’s young worker understands that resources are important.  However, they also understand that the amount of time it takes to get a resource can be more critical than the actual cost of the resource.  This critical understanding of “time value” has been developed by the very technology that made them who they are today.  Search engines and smart phones have created a very impatient workforce that demands solutions immediately.  Struggling manages often cannot comprehend this inherent need in a young worker to make the most valuable use of their time while performing the work that they have been assigned. 

Today’s work environment must adapt quickly to survive the pending generational storm.  In reality, most managers acknowledge that change is occurring, yet they are doing very little to prepare for the change.  Young workers simply do not view work and the workplace with the same lens as we have in the past.  And, on paper and in most polite conversations, these same managers agree that the quality of your business team or organization is based on the quality of your people.  Yet, this statement is contradicted many times each day by today’s “idiotic” managers all over the world.  In reality, many managers have actually become more cynical about the value of the human element in the businesses and organizations of today.  As the canyon between the supervisor of past and the young worker of the presents gets larger, too many organizations are ignoring the space between them.     

The concept of servant leadership is fading quickly.  Most organizations simply do not consider people and talent as the competitive advantage.  As contemporary managers lose value for the people they serve, they begin to harden attitudes and the importance of the worker has actually become less valuable than the machines or other property in the organization.  This is a subtle and gradual process that is magnified greatly by the natural “peaks and valleys” of repeated business cycles. 

Imagine a business serving a market that moves up and down every two to three years.  And, imagine the employment level in this business adding and losing up to 70% of its employees each time the market falls and recovers.  It is only natural over a twenty to thirty year period for the managers to become callused to the value of the individual contributor.  These same managers may even choose to limit their human connection (human relationship investment) in order to make the next round of layoffs easier on themselves.  They will naturally resist forming attachments to the people they know will be gone with the next swing of the market.  This is no different from the soldier that resists a friendship with incoming new soldiers in order to save his own emotional loss if the new soldier dies in battle.   

This loss of human value in the workplace combined with the emergence of today’s social young worker is very significant.  If we are not careful, we can lose value in what is most precious in today’s organization--our people.  This lose of human value will certainly not be intentional for most organizations.  They will simply become “battle scarred” during tough economic times and begin to rationalize the incomprehensible. 

World-class companies know that the best people are going allow the best companies to weather any economic storm.  These great leaders will re-clarify and re-amplify the value of the best people on the team.  They will certainly not take this talent for granted or even worse, remove them from the team to save a myopic dollar.  The “Idiots” on the other hand will find no value in the people that make them successful each day.  They will only see the financial statements without regard for the humans behind the numbers.   

The young worker of today has been placed on a proverbial pedestal by their parents and simply will not be attracted to nor retained by an organization that does not consider them valuable.  They will simply reciprocate the same sense of value to the organization.  They want to be part of something meaningful where they can make a difference.  They want to create and maintain critical social connections at work.  They want to have fun while doing meaningful work.  And above all, they want to be fed constantly with information that they can process while performing whatever activities they are being paid to perform.  Any environment that does not give them what they need, their contribution will always be limited and they will eventually seek what they desire elsewhere. 


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