Thank You. You are Great.

As 18-25 year olds become employees, these card carrying members of Generation Me come with a different set of expectations. Daily recognition and praise are part of keeping these people happy at work. Not praise for exceptional achievements but for basic things such as completing their work, showing up on time, etc.

NPR had a report on this phenomenon early this week. It addressed not only the need for frequent recognition–think employee of the DAY– but the struggles of their managers and coworkers to understand that this is needed for these kids and to accept it.

Sure enough, that morning I had such an experience with one of the young men that work for me.  AR is 31 but apparently drinking the same kool-aid as the twentysomethings.

In the year AR has been working for me we have discussed many times that he should not come to me with questions until he has developed potential solutions. Demonstrating a good thought process is more important at this stage than whether he has the “right” answer. No penalties for being wrong, just for doing nothing.

It was quickly clear to me that he had not done his homework. It was quickly clear to him that I was not pleased. He had though asked another colleague one question of value to our discussion. He got a smile on his face and asked, “Wasn’t it good that I asked that question?” I bit my tongue to stop the acidic, witty remark intended to display my displeasure. Good thing I listen to NPR! I told AR that he gets Props for asking the question. Now go think about this some more before we continue the discussion.

AR was pleased and even congratulated me for knowing to use the term Props. (BTW what is this slang for?).

I just left his office shaking my head. Kids these days.

Oh before I forget, you did a great job of reading this blog today. Thanks.

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About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

6 Responses to Thank You. You are Great.

  1. Frank says:

    Well done, sir.

  2. 48facets says:

    Frank, I am a big believer in brevity. In this case however, I am not clear if Well done, sir refers to:
    the beautiful writing of the post
    the way I handled AR, or
    the definition of Props

    Enlighten me.

  3. Julie Zweigoron says:

    Rick, I’m not sure it’s the generation. I know some hard working and conscientious 18-25 year olds. But don’t you find that the work place often values confidence over substance? It just stands out more when the output is so at variance with the self impression.

  4. 48facets says:

    Julie, apparently soccer trophies for everyone, a focus on self esteem over accomplishment and too much freedom have led to that variance. I know it is not the whole generation but I seem to run into this attitude more and more.

  5. I disagree with this approach.

    Of course you don’t need to wait for people to accomplish phenomenal, super-human feats before your praise them, but equally, I don’t believe you should praise them for acts that are trivial.

    Praising people for, say, coming in on time or for doing a merely adequate job is hollow – and it also tends to lower the value of later praise.

    People may end up asking themselves whether the “real” praise is genuine or “just like that time when I got praised for arriving to a meeting on time.”

  6. 48facets says:

    Alexander, I could not agree with you more. Throughout my career I have been told I do not use superlatives enough. I always thought that approach would make the superlatives more meaningful when I did use them.
    I have been on the receiving end of “thank yous” for ordinarily tasks and your use of the word hollow is spot on.
    The questions are where do you draw the line and are there truly generational differences that a good manager should be sensitive to?

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