By Guest Author and Generational expert, Brad Karsh
The most egregious offenses include parents tagging along for job interviews or personally arbitrating their children's professional affairs. While these are extreme instances, many well-intentioned Baby Boomer parents may be doing more harm than good when it comes to their child’s career. Brad Karsh, a generational expert and co-author of the new book Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management, offers tips on how to avoid excessive parenting that leads to poor performance in the workplace.
Stop Telling Them Exactly What To Do Millennials have always had a teacher, coach, nanny, instructor, and yes…a parent, to look up to for answers. Someone was always there to tell them exactly what to do whenever they weren’t sure. Naturally, they look up to their manager at work and ask exactly what they should do.
In the workplace, Boombers/Xers constantly complain about having to “hold the hands” of millennials as they answer countless questions about even the most simple tasks. Employers are looking for more initiative in millennial employees. As a parent, you can help wean them off of the tendency to ask too many questions. “Ask, ‘what do you think?’ instead of giving them the answer,” says Karsh. Many parents immediately jump in with their advice, without giving the child the option to think on their own. When a child confides in a parent for major life advice, like selecting a new job, it’s important for the parent to offer opinions, but not precise answers.
Let Them Fail There’s a good reason learning from one’s mistakes is a well-worn adage. Every parent wants their child to succeed and do well, but parents need to let their children adapt and grow from their mistakes. Avoid the urge to intervene, and let them figure it out on their own. When parents constantly help their children over every bump in the road, they’re crippling their child’s ability to address issues as adults. Allowing a child to navigate challenging scenarios will teach them to thinking under pressure and find resilience in tough times; both necessary skills in the corporate world.
Let Them Fight Their Own Battles Similar to the point above, parents must allow children to fight their own battles. If boomers received a poor grade in school, their parents punished and blamed them, not the teacher. If Xers faced a bully at school, they stood up to him, got beat up, or figured out a solution; mom swooping in to help wasn’t an option. Millennials grew up being protected from difficult situations and constructive feedback, so they’re entering the workforce quite sheltered. When a millennial vents to Mom or Dad about a bad day at work or a poor performance evaluation, some parents may be tempted to swoop in. Parents must refrain from stepping in, and allow millennials to navigate their own conflicts, disagreements, and sticky situations – at work, and in life.
Help Them Recognize That Trying Isn’t Always Good Enough Millennials have been raised with the mindset that as long as they try their best, they will succeed. In the workplace, trying isn’t always good enough. In fact, success is very largely based on whether or not you actually succeed, meet goals, and produce results - and hardly based on how hard you try. As a parent, you can help your millennial children understand the reality that workplace success is based on results. Try to wean them off of the idea that just trying automatically equates to success.
Don’t Be a Helicopter…Or Worse…A Lawnmower Parent The familiar term “helicopter parent” has evolved to “lawnmower parent” as parents are on the ground mowing over anything that comes in the way of their child’s success. They are writing their child’s resumes, reaching out to human resource managers and even showing up on job interviews. It’s one thing for a parent to introduce their child to personal networks that may help them land a job, but many parents have gone as far as to negotiate terms of employment. From debating salary figures on their child’s behalf to filing complaints with HR when their son or daughter receives a negative performance review, lawnmower parents are detrimental to a young professional’s career despite their loving intentions.
Source: Brad Karsh: Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management ($12.27 paperback or $9.99 ebook)