The Professionalization of Childhood

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July 2012

The Professionalization of Childhood
More and more, good young people are coming to your workplace less prepared than ever before. When I say less prepared, I am talking about the arena of self-management. Every couple of years or so I make it a point to take a more comprehensive look at some of the writings and literature related to the generations. The world of leadership development and talent management require that we stay up to date and briefed in this impactful area.

Tim Elmore, author of Generation iY has divided generation Y or the Millennials into two segments. The first segment includes those born between 1984-1990 – the older Millennials. The second segment of the Gen Y class are comprised of younger Millennials, or Generation iY which are those born between 1991-2002. The lower case “i” is all about digitalization.

As a Father of two sons born within the iY timeframe, it is fascinating to make personal observations as I study this topic professionally. Not only do I consider the implications of the iY generation hitting the workplace, but I am also able to recognize where my parenting has both differed and aligned with the parenting culture of the past 20 years (I can’t help but wonder if I have over-serviced and under-parented our sons).

Perhaps the clearest general conclusions to be made is that this new generation has been catered to, kept incredibly safe (at all costs) and now must be led by leaders in organizations who may tend to come up short of skills for leading this new breed of cat.

Many of today’s terrific young hopefuls entering the organization have come from childhoods that have been professionalized. We have analyzed, provided metrics and measured them every which way to Sunday. Their time has been plotted, scheduled and much of their activity and adventures have been engineered and sanitized for their protection. We’ve bolstered their self-esteem to steroidal levels and provided them various professional resources and structures that must be causing some of our own parents to chuckle. We simply won’t let them fail. When was the last time you let one of your kids crash-n-burn?

In Daniel Goleman’s tenth anniversary edition of, Emotional Intelligence, he cites that over the past few years, elementary and secondary education curriculums have begun to include classes with names like, “Self Science”. These classes are aimed at our youth to help them begin to learn how to build emotional literacy and to ultimately help them take more responsibility for themselves.

Organizations that are best able to attract, develop and retain this new talent will be the ones that win in the marketplace. How does your organization do with this younger class?


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