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Old 09-21-2007, 01:47 PM   #21
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Funny thing is that I read an article recently that kind of mirrors Tango's comment...

Since the young uns have been brought up that everybody is great, that there are no 'losers', that they can 'do anything'... they have a hard knock when reality hits with their first job... and they have to do menial work and establish themselves before moving up the ladder...

It seems some think they know it all and should have a corner office right away...

I see it with some of the managers even... my 2 level up boss is a young 30 something woman that wants to get ahead... she does not know how we operate and is not that interested... this is just a stepping stone to her next promotion...

What is different is that only a few years ago, that position was a get in the muck and do work... but now she sits in the corporate office and does nothing but 'manage'.. heck even her boss' position used to be a get in the muck job...
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Old 09-21-2007, 02:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
Grizz, I wonder if it's really the case that older employees have more absences. I do realize that more goes wrong as you get older. But many of us older people are healthy and many younger people, if not unhealthy, certainly seek medical care and stay at home when they have the slightest physical complaint. When I worked, I missed much less work in my late forties and early fifties than the twenty and thirty-somethings. Older people are much less apt to have to nurse hangovers, stay out for sick kids, stay out because of a late night, etc. And---I know the younger folk here will disagree with me---I really think us middle aged folks may be more stoic about dealing with some aches and pains, whereas kids have been brought up to be so wimpy about functioning when feeling a little under the weather. As a school kid in the sixties, no one ever went home because they weren't feeling well, unless they were deemed contagious and with a high fever. You didn't go home just because you had a stomach ache! It was very rare for a schoolage kid to have any diagnosed physical problem, such as migraines, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, psychiatric issues, and so on. I've worked with kids in the school system who regularly stayed home for one to three days because of menstrual cramps! So since we were raised more to suck it up and try to stick it out, combine that with a superior work ethic---and it seems like older workers would be absent less, not more, as some research has shown (that they take fewer sick days off and on, although there may be more extended periods of absence and they take longer to heal after an injury).
I believe that you are right about the wimpy youth nowadays. I also think that most of us go through perceived stations in our working careers.... rookie, up & comer, rock star, complacent manager, wily veteran, and finally old codger. Unfortunately lots of Megacorp's out there lump everyone over a certain age into the old codger category and even though there are probably plenty of senior people that might still be rock stars, that seniority is very costly in dollar terms when salaries and benefits are looked at and you can bet that it is ultimately the number crunchers calling the shots. Remember, management and shareholders Christmas bonus is bigger if costs are low. Reality and fairness often takes a back seat in the cost cutting/downsizing game.
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Grizz View Post
I believe that you are right about the wimpy youth nowadays. I also think that most of us go through perceived stations in our working careers.... rookie, up & comer, rock star, complacent manager, wily veteran, and finally old codger.
Grizz, I think you're on to something with your six categories of stations throughout a working career. I can actually see it as a career guide type of book, although the last two stages probably wouldn't be interested in buying/reading it! And of course, the rock stars are too happy (arrogant/) at that point to worry about future developments (and how they won't always be rock stars). And rookies and up and comers aren't that interested in the latter part of their careers. Oh well...I still think you very nicely delineated the stages (although some of us never are rock stars or managers1).
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:12 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
Funny thing is that I read an article recently that kind of mirrors Tango's comment...

Since the young uns have been brought up that everybody is great, that there are no 'losers', that they can 'do anything'... they have a hard knock when reality hits with their first job... and they have to do menial work and establish themselves before moving up the ladder...

It seems some think they know it all and should have a corner office right away...

I see it with some of the managers even... my 2 level up boss is a young 30 something woman that wants to get ahead... she does not know how we operate and is not that interested... this is just a stepping stone to her next promotion...

What is different is that only a few years ago, that position was a get in the muck and do work... but now she sits in the corporate office and does nothing but 'manage'.. heck even her boss' position used to be a get in the muck job...
This is exactly what I worried about when working with high school kids whose parents insisted that they could do and deserved whatever they wanted, even if they showed absolutely no talent for it and didn't have the grades or SAT scores for a "good" college! And I've read that some of these kids, while in college, have parents fight with professors for better grades ("But Johnny wants to get into medical/law/Harvard business school") and less work ("Susie is working too hard and doesn't have time for fun"). Supposedly some parents have even intervened in the job interviewing process, going on interviews or demanding an interview or asking why their child wasn't hired. I guess these kids are lucky to have parents who care so much, but what if their parents are no longer around to fight for them against all the perceived injustices of the world...
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Old 09-22-2007, 04:29 AM   #25
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Here is a trap for you.

Setup: Young boss, older direct report. Also consider that there is a shift where many young people are the direct reports peers.


Scenario:

Stage 1 [ The Bright Idea]
Some young turk: Hey why don't we "Bright Idea"

Older Employee: We have tried that or similar 4 times over the last 15 years. Failed each time... (describes the issues).

Young boss: Thoughts {Older employee not flexible, just negative, not on board}. Great idea! Let's go for it.

Stage 2: [Planning and Resource Allocation]

Young boss: Thoughts {I am really excited about this break through opportunity. My chance to get noticed} OK team we are moving forward. There are 3 people assigned to the project Younger1, Younger2, and Older.... Older since you are the most familiar with the overall picture, you are assign x (the pieces critical to this project). Younger1 and Younger2, you are assigned Y and Z.

Older: Thoughts {$h!t...} But, But, But this has failed 4 times in the past because of...

Young boss: Thoughts {Geez, what is the problem here...frustration} Don't worry, we can work those thing out. Remember the "Bright Idea".

Stage 3: [It fails]
12 months later: The project fails. The team is upset. The Young boss is embarrassed.

Young Boss: Thoughts {That D@mn Older was just dragging their feet and never on board. Those negative statements just ruined the teams motivation... ruminates}

This is the Triggering event!



Stage 4: [Out of Favor with Boss]


Now, the older employee can do nothing right. Is always negative. Gets poor ratings. Is considered the problem Child (Senior). Time has passed them by... etc.

The pressure starts. The older is transferred if they are lucky. If any downsizing occurs, they are pressured out.



This plays out over and over again!


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Old 09-22-2007, 09:56 AM   #26
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Wow, chinaco, this is an excellent sketch. No doubt you have thought about this a lot.. I was never employed in a large org., but believe me, I had a number of the young eager-beaver managers as clients and felt a similar resistance to tried-and-true advice. I'm sure as consultants we disappointed a few along the way. Really, we had to turn our brains off at times and just step back and give the youngsters (heh! we were 40, they were 30) what they asked for and let the ramifications fall on them.

Depends on reading the situation, but I might try the tactic of being "all ears" and just mimicking the young'uns just to see how it works once. You can't be blamed if all you are is the peppy team player following instructions; the project will live or die based on the whole team rather than falling disproportionately on you. Remember, these are the folks with the "alternative reality" and you're in it.

OR, in standing your ground, just document everything heavily in your defense. Be dispassionate in reviewing the project track to see "what went wrong" and let your predictions/results speak for themselves. Defend your reasonings (in a non-defensive way) and let the youngsters know who, what, where, why in black and white. If this is all done with a cheerful attitude, for the good of the company, at least you'll know you've done your best even if the chips still don't fall your way.

Either route will require restraint and acting skills to project "enthusiasm" and suppress skepticism, however rational. Take each project from the POV of never having seen it before. Make your objections out to be something you worked hard to discover and present --in the project's best interests-- they are surprising even to you!! Mask the scent of their being the concentrated, succinct, yet "withered" fruit of experience. "Gee! Youngboss, I really thought your bright idea was great! I did research it, and came up with XYZ negatives. Whaddya think!?" (The risk is that, if this is skillfully done and the project successfully changes course, youngboss will get credit for your brilliance.)

I think this plays out over and over again because it's just modern life in a nutshell. Generations reject the "wisdom of the ancients" and have to find out some things the hard way. All I can say is that you need to find a way to side-step this downward spiral. Maybe you can gather together a group of similarly sidelined folk and start a consulting biz marketing experience, experience, experience, taking your message over the youngsters heads to the top decision makers and focusing on results.

I remember a quote from Raymond Loewy, a famous industrial designer, who when asked by a client how a new package could increase sales, said (paraphrasing from memory): "when a client comes and asks me to help their company with a new bread package, sometimes all I can do is tell them to get out of the bread business". Company boosters are not really able to see their own defects from the inside.

----
I agree w/Texas Proud, too, about the youngsters on the fast track. We kept seeing young managers come and go at our big clients. However incompetent, they usually moved up.. mostly because they were never in any one place long enough for their mistakes to catch up with them. I started to realize this was a pervasive (and highly successful!) strategy:

Stage 1: Learning the Ropes [6-12 mo.]
Manager is covered because he is running around with a lot of enthusiasm, planning all the big changes he is going to make to get noticed. He goes about dismantling the work of the old manager, because if he leaves anything in place he doesn't look like he is "doing" enough. Not accountable since he is just starting out.

Stage 2: Reality Sinks In [12-24 mo.]
Now there is a lull, as the projects lumber forward. The cracks start to show, the bills start coming due. Maybe manager can't keep all the balls in the air.

Stage 3: Onward and Upward [2-6 mo.]
The manager already has her eye cast elsewhere, and starts being less available to respond to critical issues because she is out schmoozing to re-position herself. Then there is a small flurry of activity and pressure to "wrap up" projects that were half-baked to begin with. This, if she is conscientious. Otherwise, things fall into a black hole. Not accountable since she is on the way out.

Rinse and repeat. The secret is in maximizing the "transition times" and milking them for all they are worth. The career-climbing middle-manager wants the least amount of real impact possible. They are not managing their underlings; the only thing they are managing is their "career path". The Company, co-workers, suppliers are all just stepping-stones, not building stones.

If we were "lucky" we would be conceded, by the new manager, the privilege of wasting investing our time in trying to woo the old client (new manager). I would estimate that this was about 99% unsuccessful and, just statistically speaking, proves that it had nothing to do with our performance or "fit" with the overall client.

Out with the old, in with the new. Clockwork.

Since every few years we'd get dumped by the new manager who had to re-invent the wheel and bring in her/his new suppliers/consultants/etc., not only did all our hard work go down the drain, but this also entailed huge costs for the client -- what could we do? It wasn't that bad for us because usually exiting manager would do exactly the same thing, and we'd be brought in to work with the new client! But the process was very painful since it still wasted a lot of time in presentations and going over someone else's old ground. We learned that our client was never "Company X" (to whom we were invisible and disposable), but "Manager X" (as long as we kept propping her up and making her look good). The real interests of Company X were nowhere to be found in this equation.

There was an inordinate amount of waste, since we, too, could hardly say.. "we really like the way this product/project/campaign as it is - leave it be". (though we actually did do that on a couple of occasions). We had to play the "innovation" game, too. "Why are we hiring you if you're not going to change things completely!?"

That's why it stopped being fun and I got out of that racket. We really wanted to see long-term results but weren't allowed to. The managers-on-the-go can spin the historical red flag of job-hopping into the new buzzwords of "flexibility" and "responding to new opportunities" etc. etc.
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:58 AM   #27
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-------------------------
Seven Stages of a Project

Phase 1: Uncritical Acceptance
Phase 2: Wild enthusiasm
Phase 3: Dejected disillusionment
Phase 4: Total confusion
Phase 5: Search for the guilty
Phase 6: Punishment of the innocent
Phase 7: Promotion of nonparticipants

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Here is a trap for you.

Setup: Young boss, older direct report. Also consider that there is a shift where many young people are the direct reports peers.


Scenario:

Stage 1 [ The Bright Idea]
Some young turk: Hey why don't we "Bright Idea"

Older Employee: We have tried that or similar 4 times over the last 15 years. Failed each time... (describes the issues).

Young boss: Thoughts {Older employee not flexible, just negative, not on board}. Great idea! Let's go for it.

Stage 2: [Planning and Resource Allocation]

Young boss: Thoughts {I am really excited about this break through opportunity. My chance to get noticed} OK team we are moving forward. There are 3 people assigned to the project Younger1, Younger2, and Older.... Older since you are the most familiar with the overall picture, you are assign x (the pieces critical to this project). Younger1 and Younger2, you are assigned Y and Z.

Older: Thoughts {$h!t...} But, But, But this has failed 4 times in the past because of...

Young boss: Thoughts {Geez, what is the problem here...frustration} Don't worry, we can work those thing out. Remember the "Bright Idea".

Stage 3: [It fails]
12 months later: The project fails. The team is upset. The Young boss is embarrassed.

Young Boss: Thoughts {That D@mn Older was just dragging their feet and never on board. Those negative statements just ruined the teams motivation... ruminates}

This is the Triggering event!



Stage 4: [Out of Favor with Boss]


Now, the older employee can do nothing right. Is always negative. Gets poor ratings. Is considered the problem Child (Senior). Time has passed them by... etc.

The pressure starts. The older is transferred if they are lucky. If any downsizing occurs, they are pressured out.



This plays out over and over again!


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Old 09-22-2007, 02:05 PM   #28
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Here is a trap for you.
Older Employee: We have tried that or similar 4 times over the last 15 years. Failed each time... (describes the issues).
I wish I had a nickel for each CO who told me "#$%^, Weps, I've had six people tell me why this can't be done, but I want you to go tell me how it CAN be done. Now go do it!"

So I did it.

What's more pathetic:
1. A young, eager, ignorant employee doomed to failure through lack of experience, or
2. An experienced, battle-scarred vet who still can't figure out a better way to solve the problem they've seen four times before? Is there someone with more potential and better-equipped to solve this problem?

IMO the youngster got what they deserved-- a learning opportunity.

IMO the older employee also got what they deserved for being Cassandra instead of coming up with a solution. Sitting on one's assets and criticizing previous failures is not a good starting point; there are a number of better ways to work on a problem. For starters try Gary Klein's The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut Feelings to Make Better Decisions at Work. He calls it "gut feelings" but there's quite a bit of process applied to those feelings, and they're better solutions than "brainstorming".

Age has nothing to do with the real problems here.
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:53 AM   #29
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Old 09-26-2007, 11:04 AM   #30
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I guess this scenario plays out in all Megacorps.
I am going through something like this right now....new Manager wants to impress my Executive boss....wants me to just "make things happen"....nevermind the compliance red tape that is in place for the service orders.....does not know anything about the process but wants to make it happen.
And I go through the motions and the "compliance" departments knock her on her ass and she looks at me to bail her out. What a mess! And she does this for every order!

There seems to be no respect for experience....just come in with guns blazing and try to change the whole process without knowing ANYTHING about ANYTHING.....I have no problems pointing the finger back at her.....after all, I am just the admin!
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Old 09-26-2007, 02:50 PM   #31
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Hmmm - in my 14th year of ER this stuff looks a lot more mellow - in the immediate moment I did not think of any cool quotes - perhaps some four letter mumbles under my breath - but only perhaps.

So is it live or memorex - er ah Time or ER - I vote for ER. And such occassions are 'motivational events' to inspire the displine to execute your ER plan. Of course at the time I was just pissed.

heh heh heh - actually I probably did swear 'a few times.' What a difference time and distance make!
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