Why Risk Failure When You Can Insure Success?

January 5, 2011

By Eric Chester

Since coining the term and founding the brand “Generation Why” in 1997, I’ve had the privilege of actively engaging in the national dialogue on teens and young adults. Writing articles and books, and speaking to leaders about the attitudes, values, and beliefs of young people always elicits an impassioned response.

In that time, however, the term ”generations” has gone from mysterious to trendy to passé, and generational “experts” and consultants are now as common as laid off HR execs and trainers. Further, when I began talking about Generation Why (born 1980-1994), the oldest were 16, the same age as my daughter, Holli.  Now Holli is 30 and the youngest members of Gen Why are 16. The humorous banter about those weird and whacky Y’s is growing more uncomfortable.
It’s time to move beyond the generational labels and find solutions that ensure the success of the emerging workforce—and your business. I call this Success Insurance.

Heading in to 2011, it’s difficult to find a business owner or manager who hasn’t been inundated with books, programs, and presentations about generational differences and, more specifically, about the enigmatic age group also known as Gen Y, Millennials, the Trophy Kids, etc. The consensus among employers searching for answers is, “Yeah, I get it. They’re different. So what am I supposed to do about it?” I’ve spent the past seven years answering that question with another question: “Well, what do you want/expect from your young employees?” And no manager is ever at a loss for an answer to that.

At the risk of sounding simplistic, I can summarize hundreds of responses to that query in one sentence: Employers are searching for positive, enthusiastic people who show up for work on time, who are dressed and prepared properly, who go out of their way to add value and do more than what’s required of them, who will play by the rules, who are honest, and who will give cheerful and friendly service regardless of the situation.

If you examine that sentence, you’ll see it includes seven distinct phrases that each have clearly defined qualities or core workplace values associated with them: Positive Attitude, Reliability, Professionalism, Initiative, Integrity, Respect, and Gratitude. It is no coincidence that these seven values are the underpinnings for another heavily used term in today’s business lexicon: work ethic.

Any business filled with workers who personify those seven values would be assured of the highest levels of success, regardless of the economy, the industry, or the competition. Any company with a culture deeply rooted in work ethic couldn’t lose.

Then again, any individuals fitting that seven-term description would be assured of achieving the highest measures of success in their fields, regardless of what jobs, what companies, or what career goals they had in mind. Their work ethic would make them indispensable.

In a bygone era, work ethic (marked by those seven values) were learned at home and at school, so when new hires came into the workplace, all the employer had to do was start piling on the skills that were germane to that job. No one’s really sure exactly what date in history that stopped happening—or why—but it did. If you want to get a baby boomer amped up, just mention today’s employees and work ethic in the same sentence. Then sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

I believe to put America back to work, we must first relearn what work is about. We must begin teaching and instilling the indisputable values that build people, build commerce, and build pride. And it takes much more than rhetoric about work ethic and “the good old days.” There must be actionable strategies, effective tools, and solid resources to help leaders develop their emerging workforce and, more specifically, the work ethic within that pool of workers. You can no longer count on parents and teachers to build the core work ethic you need in your new workforce. It’s on you.

The tagline of Success Insurance is Helping Leaders Develop the Emerging Workforce, and finding new ways to build core work ethic values is our mission and our focus.

There hasn’t been a book written on work ethic since 1904. My new book – Developing Work Ethic in a World that Fights Against It will be released in 2011.

The brand Generation Why is not going away; many companies still need help understanding post-Generation Xers. However, I’m shifting the focus of my new blogs, articles, and live presentations toward what my clients are searching for—real answers to developing the work ethic in their young hires that will ensure their success and drive them to higher levels of productivity, service, and performance. In the process, we will launch a new generation of dynamic young leaders by building core values within them that will never fail them.

I invite you to visit the new website, subscribe to the blog, and send me an email to let me know how I can better serve you and help you develop young talent.

Thank you for your continued support.

Eric Chester is the founder & President of Generation Why, Inc., a training and consulting firm offering insight, perspective and strategies to leading companies and organizations to help them recruit, train, manage, motivate, and retain the very best of this new generation. His newest book “Getting Them to Give a Damn – How to Get Your Front Line to Care About Your Bottom Line” is a must read for business professionals and leaders in our industry.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: