#84 The Young Are Restless—Once More

by Steven Cerri on March 3, 2009

“Young people and the manager”

Hello everyone!

Is it a bad rap?

Last week I wrote “The Young Are Restless” and I received a number of emails commenting on my evaluation of the situation. All were positive and in agreement with what I had written, and yet, there two sides to the story. In this blog I want to address the other side.

“Young People and The Manager”

Last week I told the young people, the young engineers, they had three choices.

They could either “suck it up” and deal with the fact that they are playing by the manager’s rules… or…

They could join a small company or start-up where the rules for advancement are not so structured…. or…

They could start their own company or be a contract employee and not be responsible (so much) to the organization.

But that’s only half the story.

The other half of the story concerns the role of the manager of the team in this equation.

No Pulled Punches

Management is about getting results with and through a variety of resources. Sometimes those resources include people.

Most managers tend to treat people like other resources… like money, or land, or equipment.

Most managers will modify the land to fit the need. Or they’ll get enough money or use the money to get what is desired. Or they’ll buy the right equipment to due a job or perhaps alter the equipment to do the job better or alter it to do a slightly different job.

Whatever the exact requirement, generally speaking, we often secure the right resource for the job and when we don’t need the resource any more we through it away. Or we get a resource that is close to what we need and then we modify it to fit the job.

Unfortunately, many managers treat people the same way. If the human equipment doesn’t do the job correctly, or doesn’t do the job the way the manager wants, many managers often blame the equipment and try to make the person fit the job.

“Oh, Bob is just not suited to this job. We’ll have to let him go and find someone who can do this job.”


“I was told to put Mary on my team and I gave her a job and she just can’t do it. I’m going to have to let her go; there’s nothing here she can do.”

Now I understand completely that sometimes people are not suited to the tasks we have available for them. And I also know that people can learn, which in a way, is like modifying a machine to do a different job than originally intended.

However, lets be clear, people learn and people are flexible.

“No, no you say. I’ve met people who were completely inflexible” and not willing to learn.

While I would agree that there are people who are inflexible, my experience tells me that people are much more desirous of being successful than of being stubborn. So the question I have for the manager who wants to blame his or her direct report for being stubborn is; “What have you, as the manager, done to amplify or diminish that stubbornness?”

Cut to the chase

9 times out of 10, the responsibility of the manger is to help the direct report be successful. IT IS NOT to make the direct report FIT the job, but rather to find a way to fit the job to the direct report so that the direct report can be successful.

Now I know… I can hear some managers complaining that my suggestion is unrealistic… and sometimes it is. Guess what? In those cases where my approach doesn’t fit, don’t use it. Do something different. Remember, I said 9 times out of 10.

So where am I going with this?

If you want to read more about this topic, you can get it in my Ezine at: Steven’s February 16, 2009 Ezine

Be well,

Steven Cerri

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