Oct 29, 2007

Young Managers too cynical

Consultant and author David Maister blogs about a presentation he was giving to a group of young managers:

As always, I was making what I thought were obvious points - that the best means to get productivity and quality from those you manage is to help them find the meaning, the purpose, the excitement in what they have to do.

The reactions were amazingly cynical. "Have you ever worked in a professional service firm?" asked one young man.

Obviously, these young people had not (yet) been managed in a style that elicited their enthusiasms. Even though their firm (like all others) had grand statements about its commitment to developing its people, they had already learned (or so they thought) that the world did not really work that way.

I said that I hoped they would not just pass on to the next generation the poor way they had been managed, but I didn't leave the room with much hope.

Here is the comment that I left at David's blog in response:

1. Expectations of Gen Y and the millenials are quite different from their bosses.

2. They don't have the respect for a long corporate life that earlier generations have had. They believe that it's easy to achieve success if you have a great idea and the "large firm" way of doing things is outdated.

3. Managing is tougher on their managers than before. Most managers have been "developed" based on yesterday's textbooks. They are ill-equipped to deal with today's workforce.

There has got to be systemic approach at stemming such lack of enthusiasm before it becomes an epidemic in the world of work.

Which is why, I am becoming more and more convinced that discovering one's true calling/vocation/creating meaning, whatever you choose to call it, is the most important work for all employees and the organization.

Here's a relevant earlier post. And an article Dr. Shukla wrote in 2000 called (Un)Learning about Jobs and Work.