In 2015 the Educational Testing Service (ETS) gave a test to adults ranging from 16 to 65 years old testing their skills in a variety of professional metrics. Unsurprisingly, the youngest adults had fewer skills than the oldest ones. Turns out people learn things as they get older.
If that was all there was to the story, there wouldn’t be much interest. But articles like this Fortune article from March 10, 2015, or this “parenting” article from AARP on April 27th, 2015 paint a picture of millennials that makes it seem like it’s somehow millennials’ faults that they are young and have been systemically let down by their elders and political institutions.
According to an Accenture study of the graduating class of 2016, 80% of grads believed they would be receiving on the job training, but only 54% said they actually received it. This represents a massive gap in expectations between employees and employers, and can only result in tension, disappointment, and corporate-wide under-performance.
The problem here is similar to the bad judgement Roger Godell has shown leading up to Tom Brady’s recent 4 game suspension from the NFL. Tom Brady and the Patriots whacked the Broncos. Like tore apart their team, morale, and hopes and dreams to the tune of 45-7. Every team has skeletons, so Get off your high horse NFL! Brady got suspended (and the team fined hugely) for an offense that often goes un-fined. Tom Brady reasonably noted to the arbiter that there are different sets of rule books for players than general managers and won a repeal of his suspension. Then in order to make sure the integrity of the game was held to the highest regard, the NFL went after him further and won a reinstatement of the suspension.
There is no arguing that Tom Brady is a great quarterback, perhaps the best in the history of the game, and that he tends to try to win every week. There is also no arguing that the integrity of the game is at stake every week through the decisions and performances of players, refs, coaches, athletic trainers and many others involved in the sport.
The problem here lies in the fact that rather than asking how to get your business to the right result, employers, or Godell in the NFL example, are more concerned about having their predispositions and preconceived notions confirmed. Everyone ‘knows’ that the Patriots cheat, so the moment you think you’ve got them, go for the throat. Even if that runs counter to your bottom line (Tom Brady jerseys made the NFL more money than anyone not named Dez this year). Mr. Godell has done an insanely competent job making the NFL money, but he let his passion and personal agenda get in the way of smart business.
Imagine if instead of trying to scratch Brady’s eyes out like they were fighting behind the bleachers, Godell had launched a massive ad campaign with Brady as the centerpiece. What if they had come together and announced to the world that people make mistakes, integrity matters, and that while winning is nice, sometimes you get carried away. Spot after spot after entertaining spot would have raked in dough for the NFL – instead they spent $14.7 million adjudicating against their premier player, all while still being shitheels when it comes to domestic violence (among a million other issues, some mentioned in the high horse link above).