Videos

Gen Z And The Value Of Experience

January 30, 2023 - By Simon Sinek, American author on leadership, and motivational speaker..

COMMENT ON THIS VIDEO BY TONY FLANNIGAN, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP

A very powerful summary of why some people who apparently do the same jobs are worth more than their peers. Most people have a day job that is defined by job descriptions, policies, instructions and sometimes even standard operating procedures (SOPs), and that is the basic standard which the job needs to be done to and therefore has a worth in the marketplace. Legitimate Leadership believes in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. However, policies, procedures and instructions tend to only cover what happens when everything goes well and the process is on the tram lines. It is impossible to codify every upset or mishap that might happen in each process and that is where experience kicks in. The ability to add value to a business by knowing what to do when the process comes off the tracks can be invaluable in safety/quality/output terms. The people who can handle those situations are clearly worth more – and even more so if they have the attitude and ability to transfer that experience to more junior, inexperienced people. In Legitimate Leadership terms this is what we mean by Maturity – that is, the courage and generosity to stick around when things are less than perfect, learn and then pass on that experience to build capability in others.

OUR SUMMARY OF THIS VIDEO: The definition of what full-time employment is, is now up for debate. But Gen Z does seem less capable of dealing with stress than previous generations.

They are really good at presenting a confidence that they don’t have. They sound they sound like they have all the answers when they don’t.

It raises the question: is that bad?

The grass is always greener. You have people who are going from relationship to relationship to relationship; worse, from job to job to job.

When I was younger, if you didn’t like your job or if you didn’t like your boss, the bad news was you had to stay there for a year because if you left in anything less than a year you would hurt your CV.

You would be asked why you left in under a year.

Now, with young people there’s no stigma to quitting. It happens sometimes too quickly, like they are confrontation avoidant.

I’ve seen it: ‘I’m too afraid to ask my boss for a raise so I just quit.’ Or ‘I’ve been here for four months, I don’t like the culture, I quit.’ Or ‘I got in trouble at work, I hate my boss, I quit.’ ‘This place doesn’t fit my values, they disagree with my politics, I quit.’

If something’s super-toxic, surely get the heck out of there.

But most places are not super-toxic; imperfect yes, but toxicity is a high bar.

My fear is that if we fast forward five years there’s going to be a disproportionately high number of people who have had eight jobs in five years and employers are going to look at them and say ‘I can’t take the risk that you’re going to stick around, I’m not hiring you. You sound like an amazing candidate but you’re too high-risk for me.

‘Because you’ve had so many jobs over such a short period of time you actually haven’t stuck around long enough to build up a skill set or know what it’s like to manage in a storm. Because you’ve stuck around in the good times and bailed on the bad times.

‘And so you have been in the workforce for five years but you don’t have five years of work experience, you have four months of work experience.

‘And so I don’t want you because you’ve never been through a battle.’

I see it happening – a young person who’s been at a company for eight months goes to their boss and says, ‘I want a significant raise because I’m doing the same job as those people.’ ‘Those people have been in the workforce for 10 years,’ is the reply. ‘I know but I’m doing the same work as them and I’m doing good work.’ ‘That’s true but the difference is I’m not paying them just because they’ve been in the workforce for 10 years. I’m paying them because you know how to hoist a mainsail in calm waters and you can hoist a mainsail in calm waters as well as they can. The difference is they also know how to hoist a mainsail in a storm. I don’t know if you can hoist a mainsail in a storm. I pay them more because I know that if we run into hard times they know what to do and I can trust to navigate. And I also know that they will teach you how to hoist a mainsail in a storm.’

It’s the same reason I buy insurance. I don’t expect my house to burn down but I pay just in case. I’m paying them more for a skill set that I hope they never have to use.

Gen Z was already starting to ask these questions and it has now forced the rest of us to ask these questions too, namely: what is the definition of work? What does a full-time job mean?

These are unanswered questions. I don’t have an answer on what the future of work is because right now everything’s in flux and things have not landed yet.

What is the definition of a full-time job if I don’t come to work? The definition used to be ‘I come in at eight or nine and I leave at five or six.’ It was face time – we’ve all had jobs where we stuck around until seven so we got face time with our boss. But face time is not a thing anymore.

So I have a full-time job and I’m offered another full-time job and I take it. And we have seen employees who have productivity issues and then they say that they’re burnt out. And we respond, ‘I know how much work you have, and you shouldn’t be burnt out.’

But why shouldn’t they have a second job? Well, we pay them benefits. But as long as they’re getting their work done, do we care? All people have some sort of little side hustle.

So the definition of what full-time employment is, is up for debate and I think

young people feel in particular, ‘Why shouldn’t I, it’s my time and I can do what I want with it’ or ‘I only work 40 hours because those are my limits. Respect my boundaries.’

Yes boundaries are important but the edges of the boundaries are fuzzy.

‘I don’t work on Saturdays.’ ‘Well I agree with you, I don’t want you working on weekends. But this one weekend I really need your help to finish this project so we can get it out the door.’

Or: ‘You know I don’t take meetings after five o’clock.’ ‘I agree with you, I think we should have that life balance, but today I just need you to work till six to get this one project done.’

So one of the things they’re getting right is that we were married to work and we took our phones and  computers on holiday with us, and work had the ultimate say on our time. I agree that that should go the way of the dodo

But we should also not put these hard lines everywhere and say ‘I don’t do this.’

The irony is they demand that we respect their boundaries and yet they seem to step on every other boundary about bringing all their problems to work and dumping onto their colleagues, which is emotionally unprofessional.

But there is good evidence that this young generation seems less capable of dealing with stress than previous generations.

They are good at curating – they’ve grown up in an Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok world where ‘I’m really good at showing you the life I want you to think that I lead.’ So they’re really good at presenting a confidence that they don’t have. They sound like they have all the answers when they don’t.

It raises the question: what do you want from your life and what do you want from your work? Why do you have this job – if it’s just to pay the bills, as is the case for many people, I hope that employers are good enough that even survival jobs are a nice place to work. Trader Joe is a great company where people have survival jobs, but it is still a nice place to work.

But I think the question is: what is the life that you’re trying to build and do you want a job simply to pay your bills?

And there’s this concept of quiet quitting. It’s been written about – it’s not my concept. Quiet quitting is where I don’t quit the job but I basically dial back my effort and give you the minimum so you pay me.

I will do the basic minimum amount to do the job where you can’t really fire me because I’m not really doing anything badly or wrong, but I’m also not going above and beyond at all.

So there’s this concept of quiet quitting where people are coming to work and doing the minimum, doing their hours, not volunteering or raising their hands.

And it raises the question: is that bad?

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