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The Tragic Cost of Ignorance 


The generation gap continues to baffle far too many managers in the workplace.  Despite the effort of many to educate front-line leadership, companies are struggling with different realities at work.  This lack of knowledge is more expensive than most organization realize.  It is difficult to quantify ignorance.  It is far more difficult to calculate the cost of ignorance.  Consider the supervisor that still utilizes fear and intimidation to get work accomplished.  Managers that act like Dr. Jekyll one day and Mr. Hyde the next are still out there. 

I recently met with an executive that put this into perspective.  She said we do not hire a__holes.   We do not keep a__holes.  I do not like working with a__holes.  It doesn’t matter how capable, technical, or talented someone might be, if they are an a__hole, we want them gone.  Why is this type of clarity the exception rather than the rule?  Why do so many companies tolerate toxicity in the name of performance?  The only answer that I can musteris myopic indifference or ignorance.  They either do not care about the impact toxic employees have on the team or they are willing to sacrifice long term success for short term comfort.

Building tribes is about the experience of work rather than the work itself.  The millennial workforce is teaching us that we do not have to sacrifice happiness for a job.  In fact, the millennial generation serves as a great litmus test for leadership.  If you have unusually high turnover in front-line positions, you have a front-line management problem.  Wake up!  It is not the work that makes them quit, it is the incapable, poorly trained, or toxic supervisor. I see this denial over and over with organizations that many of us admire from the outside while being infected with toxicity on the inside.  If your inner voice suspects someone is an a__hole, they probably are.

The millennial generation (born between 1981 and 2000) are now the dominant workforce demographic.  They own the workplace by sheer volume.  It does not matter what you think of them, how you judge them, or even if you despise them.  Millennials seek a different return from the work investment.  They desire an experience to go along with compensation.  The days of transactional management (work for pay) are gone. 

I recently met with a CEO that is starting a new retail brand.  His passion and energy for his brand was obvious from the beginning of our conversation.  My advice for him was that he must go far beyond the customer experience and focus on his daily employee experience at work.  He needs to hire employee evangelists that sell his brand on every social media platform they belong to.  These employees will share his brand to all their tribes (friends, family, and school) constantly. 



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Texas Chemical Council

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