The Law of the Pack

October 13, 2017 | Manufacturing remains strong in Iowa Rowena Crosbie, President, Tero International,

Are millennials narcissistic and lazy, believing they are entitled to rank and privilege they haven’t earned? Or does their ambition make them eager to leave behind what they perceive to be an outmoded framework for career growth and success?

Rank can be consciously or unconsciously assigned. Take a look at the law of the pack as it pertains to dogs.

Buster comes to his new home from a humane society shelter. As a dog, he is automatically programmed to relate to his owners as either his parents or siblings. What do his owners do? They gush over him and talk to him in a high-pitched voice that sounds to Buster more like a sibling than someone responsible for him. When he gets excited, they allow him to jump, charge through doors, drag them down the street or claim privileges of higher rank. His position is set. He is in control. Buster outranks his owners.

What does this tell us about how each new generation is indoctrinated into the workforce? One of the greatest challenges faced by organizations is providing a work environment and benefits that attract the best employees yet don’t foster a culture of entitlement.

Leaders in organizations never intend to communicate that the comfort and personal equity of the employee take priority over what he or she is tasked to do. Yet what is the interview candidate or new employee expected to think when the tour includes a visit to a state-of-the-art fitness facility, no formal dress code, game rooms, compensated meals, convenient flex hours and optional educational programs? Add to this the promise of lavish bonuses when the company is profitable, regardless of individual contributions.

Is there a problem with companies seeking to create a state-of-the-art workplace and exemplary employee benefits?

No. The problem lies in incomplete communication. Many organizations offer their employees a unique and upscale work experience. Zappos and Disney are two examples. What they communicate, yet many organizations fail to, are the expectations of their employees.

Zappos provides a unique organizational culture that appeals to many individuals. New employees spend several weeks in orientation being educated on the organization’s goals and the expectations of each employee. Zappos is famous for “the offer,” a $3,000 take it or leave it choice to stay or go after the company has outlined its expectations. Employees have the opportunity to publicly affirm they are signing on to the expectations or they are walking.

Disney has a similarly intensive new employee orientation program that not only covers the many benefits of working for the organization, but also describes the hardships employees encounter, such as unattractive shifts, strict dress codes and the requirement to be pleasant in every situation — even when you don’t feel like it.

Like Buster the dog’s new owners, the intentions of the organization are good. They set out to create a wonderful experience for the new employee in the hopes that performance will follow. Instead, entitlement is the result.

What is the employee to think when amenities rather than job responsibilities are the focus of the first day walk-through? We know how Buster responded. How is the new employee going to respond?

In their attempt to sell the benefits of the company, organizations often fail to put performance expectations at the forefront and help the employee see the many benefits on offer are in exchange for top performance.

Rowena Crosbie is president of Tero International, co-author of “Your Invisible Toolbox: The Technological Ups and Interpersonal Downs of the Millennial Generation” and co-host of the show “Your Invisible Toolbox.” Since 1993, Tero has earned a distinguished reputation as a premier research and corporate training company. Tero has been voted among the Best Training and Development Companies by readers of the Des Moines Business Record every year since the category was introduced in 2007.