Freeman Cebu Business

You are too young; you are old enough; you are too old

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher - The Freeman

Daphne S. Sagun, a BA Communications student at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, wrote a great story about what parents tell their kids; it appeared in YOUNGBLOOD in a national broadsheet.

We all remember being told those phrases by our parents again and again.  You are too young to understand how this world really works, but you are old enough to be the responsible one in the house, look after your younger siblings, decide on the career you want or what kind of job you want.

Her story really inspired me, going back to my childhood how my parents treated me and whether I was a better father to my kids (I fear I was not). Daphne was right when she said about the older generation: ‘I understand that you have lived far longer than me. But the world is no longer the one you grew up in.’

What we are seeing in business today is that some managers are ‘too old’ to get along with the younger generations from millennials to centennials that have entered / are entering employment now. Both groups have very different expectations about life and about the way they want to work and the freedom they want in making decisions.

Even up to today, many managers believe in a strict hierarchy and that decisions are made at the top and then are cascaded and implemented down the chain of command.

But in the digital age, where changes are happening at lightning speed, the organizations – ultimately its people – have to be more dynamic; decisions are to be made faster to avoid that the company falls by the roadside. In this kind of a scenario, it is imperative for companies to develop a dynamic workplace where decisions need not always come from the top. It is likewise ideal for the individuals to be able to work well in groups that can cut across disciplines and can be formed and reformed to specific needs.

I hear many complaints about the unrealistic expectations of millennial workers and that millennials are sometimes difficult to manage and likely to quit at a moment’s notice.

It is time for leaders of organizations to stop debating the millennial problem, hoping that this supposedly exotic flock will get along with the programs and processes. Instead, I feel, they should see how questions and challenges from their younger employees can spark action to help their companies change for the better. It’s easy to say that young people haven’t matured enough to resign themselves to the reality of what’s possible. Yet, the young ones are asking an important question: ‘Why does it have to be this way?’ In the process of listening, leaders will soon realize that young people want the same things we all do.

Young professionals don’t want to be patronized; young people don’t want to be told what to do; they love to be given the chance to solve problems. We have seen in hackathons  that these young groups are coming up with surprising workable solutions.

We need the right combination of high-tech and high-touch in human relations to attract and keep the right people.

Regarding centennials, it is important to realize that they are socially and environmentally conscious. As such, companies need to show they are good corporate citizens and are contributing to the welfare of society to get most support. The young people don’t want to work for companies that are not in compliance with good governance. Integrity is a must!

And remember, the best way for an organization’s competitive edge is through the innovation of its people.

Let me close with Daphne’s conclusion of her exciting column: ‘We are not against you. We are with you in desiring a better place for all of us to live in. We are trying to take charge of our future. All we ask is for you to respect us, like you expect us to respect you. If the youth aren’t allowed to think for themselves, how will they learn?’



Feedback is welcome; I can also send you a copy of Daphne’s column if you are interested; you can contact me at [email protected] , [email protected]


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