Ducks in a Row: Fostering the Wrong Attitude

Ducks in a Row: Fostering the Wrong Attitude

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

Five years ago I wrote about a coaching assignment that was the result of the prevailing attitude of praising and rewarding kids. The manager had already had a similar conversation, but wanted the points driven home by a “third party expert.”

I had the dubious honor of explaining to a 28 year old why he didn’t get a bonus. I started by asking why he thought he deserved one, He said that

  • he hadn’t missed a day of work during the year and
  • had been on time every day;
  • all his assignments were completed on time; and
  • he’d done everything exactly as requested.

I spent 20 minutes explaining that 1) the things he listed were his job, what he’d been hired to do and for which, he agreed, he was fairly compensated and 2) the bonus was for people who had

  • gone beyond their job description;
  • shown imitative; and
  • offered help without being asked.

The result of the ‘double dose’ was apparent the following year when that young man won a sizable raise and a merit-based bonus—not always the typical reaction.

I thought about that experience when I read Losing is Good for You, but what really drove home the importance of changing the current paradigm was the comment from KJ, a 24 year old college grad.

I’m 24 and a college graduate, and my peers and I were constantly praised from kindergarten through college. Like in the article, we all got trophies and certificates of achievement in grade and middle school, high grades in high school (partially so we could get into good colleges) and good grades for just showing up to class in college.
Competitive skills are not inherently developed; they are learned. What we have now is a group of young people coming out of college and high school who are just discovering that it takes more than showing up to succeed in life, and it is in no small part due to the “everybody is special” culture that we were steeped in as adolescents.
(Emphasis added.)

However, what continues to amaze me is that after more than a decade in the workplace those who learned, changed and were promoted are still raising their kids as special, thus propagating the attitude.

And they do this while simultaneously bemoaning the entitled “it’s enough to show up” attitude of their new hires.

Flickr image credit: Ray Bouknight

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