Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Of Trophy Kids and Helicopter Parents
October 16, 2008, 12:43 PM
Filed under: Hands-On Management | Tags: , ,

As I browsed through the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, I ran across an article entitled “Under Pressure”. The writer, Matthew Futterman, detailed the lives of the Martin family. Bowie and Julie Martin spent five years shuttling their two sons to practices, lessons and games in a half-dozen sports before settling on golf (their boys were then 6 and 8). Now at 11 and 13 sons Josh and Zach are two of the best young golfers anywhere. The family moved to a two-bedroom townhouse beside the 17th hole of one of the golf courses at Pinehurst and spends all of their free time (and money) at practices with golf pros and competitions in the U.S. and internationally.

To some of us this may seem over-the-top, but not to the parents of the millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2001. As Futterman points out, experts in child development say that these parents were the latch-key kids of the 1970s and 1980s, reared by hands-off parents, and as they are now bringing up their kids, they’re moving in the opposite direction by being overly protective and involved throughout every stage of their children’s lives. These parents have earned the title “helicopter parents.”

So what happens when this new generation enters the workforce, which they are now doing? Enter Ron Alsop and his new release the Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace . In his book, Alsop first describes this new generation and their upbringing, and then warns employers how they will need to change their hiring and employment practices if they want to hire and keep these young workers around.

The millennial generation offers many paradoxes. They have a high sense of entitlement but are also philanthropic and community-minded; they set a high premium on career success but are incorrigible job-hoppers and rarely exhibit loyalty to any particular place of employment; their commitment is to self-determination and to garnering as many skills as possible before moving on in pursuit of their “dream job.”

Companies may be wise to heed Alsop’s advice and begin looking at their employment practices to see if they are ready to accommodate this next generation of workers. They are 92 million strong and companies won’t be able to function without them as baby-boomers (their parents) begin retiring in droves.


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