I am not in love with youth.
I know I shoud be. Mass media and advertising keep sending me subliminal and overt messages that youth should be adored, adapted and adopted.
I'm not so sure. There is nothing less attractive that someone clinging – poorly – to an age gone by.
But here's the deal:
I'm not against youth either
As far as I can recall I was young once. Its a little fuzzy since at the time I was pretty busy raising a houseful of kids (I have more than you think), attempting to get promoted and trying to make a marriage work. Hey, two out of three ain't bad.
Today however I see business – and my HR friends, we're among the worst culprits – lurching from one side of the road to the other in an alternating fury of love and hate with young people. Simply because of their age!
Guardrail to guardrail.
The stereotypical comments, puns and put-downs laid without thought on young people are rampant. And yes, I suppose older workers get their fair share of unwarranted labelling too. I know first-hand that age discrimination is real.
But we can be better than that
At one point, at least in America, it was a big deal that “people be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” as the late Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr said. I apply the same standard – I try to apply the same standard – to any difference.
We spent a lot of time and effort – and more than a few spent real blood, sweat and tears – to help turn a society into a better one recognizing all people have the potential for value. And that potential realized is what determines our worth.
Differences make us unique not damaged
Well-run organizations put responsibility into the hands of people who can exercise it without looking at artificial barriers like age, gender and so forth. You will, needs be, migrate to these well-run companies. Many of you are already there. Odds are your current boss or next boss will be – horrors – younger or older than you.
Guess what? If they're a good boss you won't care.
My colleagues and peers around the globe are a pretty driven bunch. They want to win and they want to work in winning cultures. Winners hang out with winners.
They come from HR, marketing, engineering, sales, operations and so on. You know what? They don't label and catergorize coworkers or leaders by any factor other than competency. The ability to get it done.
No, I'm not in love with youth any more than I believe older workers automatically have all the answers. You can be a leader at any age. And our times demand leadership.
So let's get over ourselves and stop creating and sustaining this intragenerational warfare in the workplace.
We are better than this