Joanie B. Connell – Flying without a Helicopter

Recently I had an interesting conversation with an IT executive about his technical staff, and we ended up talking about “millennials,” the generation of adults currently in their twenties and early thirties. He said their narcissism, lack of resilience, attitude of entitlement and poor work ethic had caused terrible issues for him.

But he said he found the solution. “I don’t hire them anymore,” he said. “That’s why my staff has people from Ecuador, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Jamaica, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, and all the Americans I have are over 40.”

helicopter parentsJoannie B. Connell, Ph.D., talent management expert and career coach, has a new book, Flying without a Helicopter (2015), that puts much of the blame on over-parenting. Popularly known as “helicopter parents,” these parents seem to “hover” over their children, doing things for their kids that the kids need to be doing for themselves. While these children may think it’s pretty cool to have parents who praise them for everything (whether they earned it or not), get them out of trouble, solve their problems, and buy them whatever they say they need, this over-protection and dependence on their parents prevents them from learning the life skills and personal strengths needed to deal with life and work as an adult.

In her book, Dr. Connell describes “millennials” in detail. She reveals the gap between what these young adults were taught to expect and the realities of a challenging workplace. Like my friend, many employers are concluding that despite their college degrees, too many young adults of this generation are not prepared for to contribute in the workplace.

Most of her book describes solutions – what employers and millennials need to do differently to be successful. According to Connell, these young adults have a lot to learn, things their parents didn’t teach them,things they didn’t learn from life, and things they weren’t taught in college:

  • Accept imperfection
  • Build resilience
  • Develop independence
  • Polish communication skills
  • Foster creativity

Easier said than done. But defining the problem as clearly as Dr. Connell does and outlining realistic solutions is a great beginning.