The "Me" generation? I don't buy it.
The self-esteem generation (18- to 25-year-olds) is now moving into the workforce, and they're driving Boomer managers nuts. Kids who were used to being told how "special" they are at every turn by parents and teachers and getting gold stars for their finger paintings are apparently having trouble adapting to the real world in which managers merely expect them to do their jobs. According to National Public Radio:Companies are hiring consultants to help manage the "over praised" Me Generation. The result? Kudos for showing up to work on time! Awards for getting a report in! Forget Employee of the Month — how about Employee of the Day! Some managers are resistant, saying the only praise they ever got was a paycheck.
Who is responsible for producing this generation of emotionally needy young adults? The Baby Boomers have only themselves to blame.
Stories like that one have been popping up all over the place lately. As someone who is smack-dab in the middle of that generation, I just have to say, "I don't buy it."
For starters, none of that crap ever happened to me, at least that I can remember. I know for damn sure that in high school no one got undeserved praise, there were no "gold stars" for anything but excellence, and no one was shouting from the rafters, "You're so special!" It didn't happen. And I was in the apparently decrepit and useless public school system.
And no one I know is like that either. Perhaps I don't associate with the right people to see it, but no one I know is like this. I know a decent number of people in this age group fairly well (a given person's range of acquaintances is roughly 100-200 people), and I don't know of a single person who has had to be coddled in order to survive. You know what? Those people don't survive. Someone who needs praise in order to get motivated will fail out of Stanford (or any real college) in a few terms, and usually a couple of F's is all it takes to get someone's ass in gear (I've seen it happen). If not, maybe they'll wake up when they're kicked out on their ass.
I want to know how these same damn analysts can say that this generation is overcompetative, and at the same time weak. One day you'll hear how the boomers' ridiculously high expectations are crushing their children, the next how their coddling has ruined them. Well which is it? You can't have it both ways!
Personally, as someone who actually is in this generation group, they're both crap. There's pressure on us, but there's always been pressure on kids. And the people I know are all hard-working, motivated, talented people, just like everyone else. Sometimes they break down, just like everyone else. Maybe my generation really is different from the previous ones, but I'm not seeing it, and if it really is as bad as everyone says, I think that I would.
Personally, I think that if these kids need special management that's not worth the time or effort, then their employers should fire them. Is it really that hard to say, "You're too much of a freakin' baby, so we're letting you go. Grow up and maybe you'll be able to get a job." I can't think of any way for them to grow up faster.