ENTITLED TO MOVE UP VS. THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVE YOURSELF WORTHY
Ilene Gordon was given the challenge at age 32 by a mentor to manage a group of people more than 20 years older. The challenge for this executive several years out of business school was to get the best out of them, to motivate and inspire them.
From this experience, she learned the philosophy of putting people in jobs where they had to stretch, jobs they were not ready for at the time, from this mentor who realized she was smart, analytical and focused and needed greater challenges. Now in her position as CEO of Ingredion, her employees love to hear that philosophy because they know they are going to get opportunities. A Boomer, she “gets it ” that what Gen Y/Millennials want is opportunity and challenge. Often impatient, many of them want that opportunity before, given their relatively short tenure at work, they would be judged to be ready.
This story was shared by Gordon in an interview with Adam Bryant in his Corner Office column in the New York Times (3/17/13). She urges young people to have tenacity rather than just leaving if things don’t happen for them quickly and to have backup plans because things don’t always work out. Young people have to learn to deal with adversity in life and work, and that’s where the backup plans come in. In promoting she looks for energy, drive and the ability to get things done through other people whether all on site or in virtual teams.
The lesson here for the young generations is that they are not entitled to rise quickly just because they think so or want to, but managers should give them opportunities to stretch and grow and prove themselves worthy of promotion and significant responsibility. It’s up to the individuals to figure out what to do, use their energy, and learn the interpersonal skills to lead a team to succeed. Their team members will make them look good if they provide the resources needed and make the team members look good.
What do you think of this philosophy? Do you think many managers will take the risk and trust it will work out well? They also need a backup plan and create a culture where it is all right to fail.
Phyllis Weiss Haserot www.pdcounsel.com