Are We Over-Rewarding Our Children?

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Parents and leaders are called to both love on, coach and lead their children

I am concerned that few people will see this one coming. Growing up, this generation of kids was used to “getting their own way.” They have seldom heard “no” as an answer. Mom and dad were intent on building strong self-esteem in them—so they got rewarded just for participating on a team. (I have been to Little League awards banquets where ninth place ribbons were given out to boys and girls!) All of this has served to make them feel like winners regardless of whether they performed well or not. They have a high expectation of self and the speed of their climb up the corporate ladder. They have experienced little or no failure. They feel everyone is a winner.

How will this play out on the job? Obviously, their supervisor may not be as intent on safe guarding their self esteem. The moment they are reprimanded for a performance issue or low production, it may just cause them to tail spin. Sadly, many of these kids have climbed Mount Everest but have never punched a time clock. As they’re forced to face a setback or unglamorous work, it may be emotionally hard.

What can we do? Like you, I recognize that someday these young people must meet up with the real world. I am not suggesting we turn into doting, “helicopter” mothers and fathers as we lead them. However, we will need to be prepared to play the role of a coach not just a supervisor to this new generation of workers. Treat them as young leaders you are mentoring. Let them know you believe in them and have their best interests in mind. Celebrate when they perform well, before launching into the improvements they need to make in their work. Give them short-term commitments, if possible, to put some “wins” under their belts. I believe this generation will respond well to “bad news” when this kind of relationship is established with them.

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