Not Everyone Gets a Trophy (September 2009)

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September 2009

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

This summer as part of my preparation for a group learning session related to parenting the younger generation, I picked up the book, Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, by Bruce Tulgan. The title grabbed my attention so I grabbed the book.

I have noticed over the past nine or ten years that when keynote speakers deliver messages about the generations, these messages are usually entertaining, informative and well-received by many audiences. And when the conversational clamor dies down, we are left with compelling questions and challenges as today’s organizations look to assimilate Generations Y ( birthdates 1978 to 1990) & Z (birthdates 1991 to 2000) into our workforce.

Today’s young people have been brought up as the most over-parented generation in U.S history. Tulgan states that, “Every step of the way, Gen Yers’ parents have guided, directed, supported, coached, and protected them. Gen Yers have been respected, nurtured, scheduled, measured, discussed, diagnosed, medicated, programmed, accommodated, included, awarded and rewarded as long as they can remember”. In the past couple of years many of us have been hearing or reading about (we) helicopter parents who have hovered over this generation.

So what impact do the years of birthday parties with clowns, face-painting and ponies really have? And what expectations are being established with online homework monitoring, social networking, texting and incessant cell phone conversations with Mom & Dad? Tulgan’s research-based response seems to be: GenYers have been significantly impacted by a change in parenting and societal trends and today’s organization must get ready.

Below are some notable observations and findings about our GenYers:

They are used to being treated nearly peer-like by authority (parents)
They have “just-in-time” or transactional loyalty
They are the most comfortable generation with the wiki world of info management
They need continuous feedback (avoid radio silence at all costs)
They respond extremely well to small, incremental rewards and point systems
They may have parents who still want to be involved when they come to your workplace

They do respect their elders – they are closer to their parents than any prior generation

Today’s organizational leaders must learn to lead like never before – to possess platinum if not titanium level communication and relational skills. As Tulgan states, “If you want high performance out of this generation, you better commit to high-maintenance management. They need you to guide, direct and support them every step of the way. In return, you’ll get the highest-performance workforce in history”.


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