The Me Generation

In a perfect world, we’d all receive nothing but compliments and praise for every aspect of our lives. But it’s not a perfect world. The world we all live in is full of conflict and sometimes we do something outstanding which warrants recognition and praise. Why, then, would parents go out of their way to make sure their children receive nothing but constant positive feedback and praise for every tiny thing they do? How does that prepare them for the real world? Sure, initially you might change the mind of your first, or even second, manager/supervisor, but not everyone’s going to be accommodating forever. Sooner or later, probably sooner, managers are going to realise what a waste of time it is to have to spend so much time patting backs all day rather than getting on with the work day.

This morning as I drove to work, I was listening to NPR and there was a story about the current work force of 18-25 year olds – the Me Generation – and how companies are now hiring consultants for help with praising these workers so they don’t lose them. So now employees are being recognised for showing up on time. For completing work. Um… excuse me, but isn’t that what you were hired to do? I don’t know of any company in the world which hires people who aren’t going to show up for work – or not at all – or who aren’t going to actually do the work they were hired to do. Awards of any kind should be given to those who go above and beyond what’s expected of them on a daily basis. Not for doing the things you were hired to do.

I’ve noticed, lately, that many places this age group works – like the Quizno’s across the street from work here – has a tip jar. Sorry, but your services do not warrant tips. I only tip at a restaurant where I sit down and my meal is brought to me and a few other places. Not at a fast food establishment.

The parents of these young adults have done them a horrible disservice. The other female in my office is 25 and I told her about the story I listened to and she thought it was a joke. She works the same as the rest of us and I’m the one closest in age to her with a 10 year gap. So I realise it’s not every single individual in that age group, but it’s a good portion of them this needy when consulting firms have popped up to help managers/supervisors deal with how to keep them happy.

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5 thoughts on “The Me Generation

  1. There’s actually a good reason to praise your children for the things they do right… It’s called “positive reinforcement” and its an effective parenting tool in dealing with training your children to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing.

    And in terms of praising adults in the work place… Honestly, yes, managers should praise their employees for doing a good job — including showing up on time every day, and getting projects done on time. The point in doing this isn’t to pamper employees, the point is to show your employees that they are appreciated and valued.

    Where I work, we don’t get shown any appreciation. We are not thanked for ANYTHING — not unless we twist ourselves into a pretzel to kiss our bosses ass. And because of that, everyone that works here is either depressed or angry (or both, on occasion), and no one is motivated to go any further than they absolutely have to to get a job done.

    The mentality is that “my employers don’t give a shit about me, why should I give a shit about them? I’ll just do whats required to get my paycheck, and leave it at that.”

    I’m not saying that someone needs to go hire an employee specifically to thank everyone. That is a little outreageous, imo. But if bosses just took an extra 5 seconds to say “hey thanks for getting that done so quickly” or “I really appreciate that you’re always on time for work” people would be a lot happier.

  2. Well, yes, tess, I agree that it doesn’t hurt an employee to show some appreciation. Saying, “Thank you.” When something is done, goes a long way. I’m glad I am thanked every time I do something specific for either Thing 1 or Thing 2. There are occasions when I don’t get a response and I brush it off cos I know they’re in a pissy mood.

    But there’s a world of difference between saying, “Thanks,” or “Good job on that report” if it was something that was needed in a rush suddenly and taking time every morning to award an employee of the day. Why is all the hoopla necessary?

    I realised long ago that ultimately I do not care about my employers and whether or not they have the number of workers they need. I help these guys here because they’ve been good to me, but when it comes time for me to leave, I will do so without a second thought. Company loyalty went out of fashion the generation before my parents – and even with them in a way I guess.

    Perhaps that’s why I don’t look for praise like these kids do, because I know it’s not going to be forthcoming. Besides, I’ve been in a position where I’ve been told I’m the best on staff at what I do and still had nothing to show for it but my boss’ say so. It wasn’t enough, but I never got more than that. So I gave up.


  3. As I’ve told you..we have one on our staff who turns around and tells the teachers……the ones who he is supposed to work for…”You’ve had your quota!”
    ‘scuse me..but they are the ones who decide what they need doing, not the technicians.
    Quite frequently I will do things for his teachers..and they are ALWAYS nice about it…..But this person…is not one of the ME generation, he’s a Southerner, (SE UK,) and turned 50 the other week.
    The youngest technician is not a ME generation…or perhaps it hasn’t hit the UK yet, as my two eldest fall into the category…and both work real hard, cos they know that is what they should do
    Actually…I think we are just a bit behind, cos the kids going through school…the bulk of them seem to expect their arses wiping for them, and after going to a parents forum a few weeks back, (never again,) the parents do expect the kids do be molly coddled…and don’t seem to think that it is possibly THEIR kids fault that they are not working…
    What’s that phrase?
    You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink….same applies to these kids…why praise them for something they should be doing?
    At least you’ll have a breather before you encounter them over here, Sin.

  4. I always wondered what that generation was called. The Me Gen, hey?

    I will never stop offering positive reinforcement to Nate, especially at this age and as a child. It’s critical. BUT, that’s not to say that he also doesn’t get reprimanded for doing something wrong, and in his teenage years, he’ll know well when that’s occurring. It’s important to have a balance of both. The positive feedback lets them know they’re doing well, the other lets them know they have to work harder in what they do.

    I can appreciate your point of view on the whole subject as seen in what is now the Me Gen. They are spoiled, and don’t really know what the true nature of good work habits is. But is that just something they will learn as life smacks them in the face? I know, I know. You point is: Surely Not, Jules, if all they ever hear is what a good job they’re doing! ;O)

  5. You are going to gasp when you read this, but I get paid a bonus for showing up to work.

    I imagine that you have the same look on your face that I had when I found out!

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