Ask Dr. Tom: Work Ethics of the Younger Generation

Ask Dr. Tom:
Work Ethics of the
Younger Generation

by Thomas Davidow
Genus Resources Inc.

Question:Do you think that the work ethic of the younger generation is the same as the founder’s?If your answer is “no,” do you feel that this will impact the business?

Answer:It is too easy an answer just to say “no.”A “no” answer assumes that the younger generation is not as responsible as the older.When comparing the work ethic between two generations, it is very important to look at the differences in motivation factors.

The need to provide basic food and shelter is generally a pretty powerful incentive for hard work.The senior generation often comes from, if not poverty, at least a far less affluent background than the one it has provided for its offspring.Consequently the younger generation’s drive to succeed may not be characterized by the same sense of urgency.When the younger generation has been spared the same experience of struggle for survival, the two generations are separated in a most profound way.

Parents must accept some responsibility for apparent differences in work ethic.Most parents want their children’s lives to be better than the ones they lived, so they give them too much.They make their children’s live too easy and then they complain!

How do I feel these differences impact the business?Different work ethics do not by definition hurt the business.Most members of the senior generation equatework ethic with time:time spent visibly working. My recommendation to the senior generation is this: Do not compare the hours you put in with the hours they put in.Nobody will ever do that again and fortunately, in most cases, it is not necessary.People have other lives today, other responsibilities, and those other roles need to be respected.Let them work smart, not hard.

At the same time, do not be so easy on them.Give them a chance to work to their optimum levels, and, most importantly, do not bail them out.Give your children a chance to fail.The money you lose will be money well spent.