FORUM: How are the recent
generational shifts different than
the those of the past?
I think this one is different, in part, because of
the empowerment of the upcoming generations.
By that I mean the parents of the Millennials did a great deal to ensure that they had a
voice. When I was growing up, it was said, “A
child should be seen and not heard.” Now, parents want you to be heard and they want you
to be heard often. They wanted to know what
was going on with the young people. These
young people are in the workforce now and, lo
and behold, they still want to be heard. They
spent the first 15 years of their lives with their
parents saying, “Hey, talk to me, talk to me.”
They received pretty consistent feedback, but
now they go into the workplace and they’ve got
bosses who don’t expect to hear from them at
all. They expect them to follow their rules that
have been in place for generations, but they’ve
never been raised to follow those rules. So, part
of it is that empowerment.
The second thing is access to information.
They are able to see the real-time data that
either comports with, or doesn’t, the stories
they are being told by their bosses. It’s a diffi-
cult challenge trying to talk about an example
of leadership or openness, honesty and trans-
parency, when day after day they see the lack
of that happening in the corporate space, the
association space, the educational space and
political space. It breeds a brand of distrust
that supersedes anything that we can tell them,
because they are seeing a CEO that literally
stole millions and millions of dollars from his
company and he got a golden parachute, while a
bunch of other people no longer have pensions.
FORUM: Millennials have a
reputation for jumping from job
to job. Do you think this behavior will settle or is it how the
workforce operates now?
Many young people go into a job knowing it’s not
what they want to do. It’s what they have to do.
They have student loans, they’re still living with
mom, they want to get a car—they have to have
some version of income. They started dreaming
about who they wanted to be and that has not
matched up with their educational choices. I
don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
I think there are millions of people across the
planet that went to college or trade school or
the military and became educated, then realized
that what they were educated in was not who
they are or not who they want to be.
Circling back to the education of Millennials,
we have told them, “You don’t have to stay. You
can do something different. If you don’t want to
join the soccer team, then you can go and be
an artist. If you don’t want to be an artist, you
can be an architect. If you don’t want to be an
architect, you can go save the planet by figuring out how to increase water levels in South
Sudan. You can do all of this.” So, when we
have empowered a group of people who invest in
themselves in a significant and passionate way,
it is silly for me as the CEO or the HR person, to
expect them to be different than who we trained
them to be. I think it is likely to continue.
he philosophy of Dr. James Pogue is framed through the perspective
that we are more similar than we are different, but that those differences
are what help to make conversations richer, more productive and make
our relationships more significant. FORUM spoke with Dr. Pogue about the inter-connectivity of different generations, the importance of embracing diversity and the
challenges and benefits of undertaking necessary cultural changes.