Wednesday, May 06, 2015

You came to work today?! Here is your participation ribbon!

I don't talk about work much because it is kind of boring and hopefully will change for me soon, plus I keep my blogging and work life as distinct from one another as possible. Today was a little different. I was in a leadership class with other leaders from my organization and one of the topics was how challenging it is to manage in a multi-generational workplace. One of the main topics was managing the "millennial" crowd. I found out that this generation tends to enter the workforce an average of 5 years later than their predecessors. That means that young adults getting hired have often never worked anywhere before so things like "showing up to work on time" are not just assumed. Thanks again to the geniuses pushing for a higher minimum wage which will serve to keep even more young kids out of the workforce and for longer.  This generation is often disparaged, not without some justification, as being an entitled generation who expect the equivalent of a participation ribbon every day for just showing up to work. I think they know what older people think of them and understandably resent it. Living lives that are the equivalent of being wrapped head to toe in bubble wrap is not conducive to growing into responsible adulthood.

My point here is not to get a cheap laugh at expense of those rotten kids. Well maybe a little bit. The greater concern is that in our workforce a large percentage of our team are millennials and that is only going to grow in the immediate future. That raises the question of who is going to fill in the leadership vacuum as older leaders retire and leave the company. It is a serious issue as the bench is getting pretty thin and ours is a very large organization. Too often we have seen the result of just moving someone into leadership for the sake of filling a hole and it is generally disastrous. Yet the desire to move up and just as importantly the willingness to put in the hard work and the time to move up is all too absent. It is a looming problem and coming out of our meeting this morning we didn't really have much of a solution or plan.

More broadly, this is an issue for our society. Who is going to lead? Who is going to pay the taxes that will be needed to support the massive social safety net for those who have already paid their share? When the younger generation is waiting a lot longer to get their first job, move out of their parent's home, finish school, get married and especially have kids (the two most formative maturing influences in our culture), the entire system gets shifted back. Our entire social contract depends on a willing next generation to support the generation that supported their elders and if that doesn't happen there is trouble on the horizon.

What is to be done? I am not sure anything can be done. The elites in our culture have done such a thorough job of infantilizing generation after generation and entertaining them to death that we might be approaching the end of the road. Sure it will keep on churning along on inertia for a while but apart from some major shift it is possible that the end is nigh. That might not be completely terrible but it certainly is unsettling.

No comments: