A Manifesto from a Praised Young Person.
April 24, 2007
Did you see the WSJ's Weekend Journal this past Friday? Smack dab in the middle of the front floats a large-headed young employee with his nose to the sky. The article, "The Most-Praised Generation Goes to Work.
60+ years -- prefer public, formal awards but don't need constant praise.He goes on to explain that, "'It's not enough to give praise [to this generation] only when they're exceptional, because for years they've been getting praise just for showing up.'" If an employer is complimenting "us" for merely showing up, of course we expect to be praised when we do something above and beyond showing up. It's Pavlov's basic rule. The expectation for praise becomes a reflex. But what if the expectations were set higher than just showing up? Coming from a member of the praised generation, we want to be challenged. We want to care about what we're doing and we want you to care about we're doing. My favorite bosses and coaches have always been those who make me stretch and grow; they're the ones who sit me down and explain that they have big expectations for me. I have to earn their praise. It's only when I've challenged myself and succeeded (however you define success), that I can actually accept and savor a compliment. In the end, Bob has it right. "By encouraging and praising them [the praised generation], you'll get more out of them." So yes, we were raised on praise. Most of us benefited with self-esteem. That self-esteem gave us a backbone. That backbone helps us stand up for our ethics (which after such scandals as Enron and Worldcom, can't be bad), question company policies and processes in a productive way, and use disappointments to better ourselves rather than take it personally. We're not asking for kudos and presents for every small success. Challenge us and congratulate us when we go above and beyond. As a fellow member from my generation and co-worker chimed in, "Take us seriously." If we're not doing well, tell us. Don't hold us to anything less. We're not so different from other generations.
Baby Boomers -- are looking for "more self-indulgent treats" such as massages and new technology.
Under 40 -- need a bit more praise and "near-constant feedback."