There’s been a lot of controversy since Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison made news by coming out strongly against “participation trophies” for his sons.
Impact of the Self-Esteem Movement
The intent of the “self-esteem movement” for kids was to build self confidence and self-worth by receiving trophies for showing up. However, according to Evan Grossman who wrote the article: How Participation Trophies Are Making Our Kids Soft, studies have shown that rewarding kids just for participating can have a negative impact, producing a self-obsessed, irresponsible, and unmotivated generation of false achievers.
He cited a recent interview with C. Robert Cloninger, a doctor at Washington University in St. Louis, who said that awarding trophies to all kids can have negative biological impacts, too. According to Cloninger, “if you constantly reward a kid, you spoil them, and you don’t build a capacity for them to be resilient to frustration. In short, protecting kids from the agony of defeat blunts their competitive edge and never teaches them to properly deal with adversity.”
And guess what? The children who grew up with helicopter parents and rooms full of participation trophies are entering the workforce and will be more than 50% of the workforce in less than 5 years.
Most managers are not equipped or prepared to work with a generation that not only requests on-going coaching, feedback and mentoring , but expects it.
The reality of many work environments is that as organizations become leaner, the mentality has been “do more with less.” Job functions are consolidated and employees are often expected to do more work with fewer resources, less training and guidance.
So how do we balance the realities of the “do-more-with-less” management style with the Millennials who have may have an entitlement mentality regarding receiving feedback and difficulty dealing with adversity?
Remember – We’re All Adults
Objective Measures and Collaboration
Let’s consider that both managers and employees are adults in the workplace and need to put aside what they are used to and reestablish expectations and guidelines. Using an objective measure and collaboration will be essential keys to success. Rather than rely on personal expectations, as a manager or as an employee, re-frame the expectations to make sure the expectations of the customer are being met first.
Managers who have reduced training and professional development or equipment or software expenditures that would improve or enhance performance and morale due to budget cuts may need to reconsider if they are being “penny wise and pound foolish.” The old excuses of “the budget” or “I didn’t get any training either…” won’t cut it in 2015 and beyond. It’s time to be creative and collaborate.
Millennials who resist traditional workplace protocols and feedback mechanisms also need to adapt and respect that their participation is needed in a different way than how they were raised. They need to participate in ways that contribute to the customer expectations, to the team and organizational initiatives that support the customer experience.
Regardless of age or generation, we all need to be focused on collaboration with the best interest of the customer, the constituents or the members. We need to focus on what’s good for the organization. Tear down the fiefdoms and self-protection.
Maybe if we start rewarding people who participate with a generous spirit , a desire to contribute and willingness to do their best, we ‘ll need fewer trophies and performance reviews!
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker and consultant on personal and organizational change. When asked “what keeps you awake at night?” most executives cite personnel issues and resistance to change. If you want to get a better night’s sleep and help taking the pain out of change, contact Marty today: 816-695-5453 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com