What do young people have to say about the widely perceived widening soft skills gap? Mostly they say, “That’s so true about my friends and me!” or else “Seriously?!” and then, either way, “So what?!”
To that, I usually respond, “Well, it drives the grown-ups crazy and it’s holding you back. If you were to radically improve on these soft skills, it would give you a huge strategic advantage in your career.” The good news is that this is almost always enough explanation to capture their attention and interest in improving.
What do business leaders and managers say when I tell them how they can lead their new young talent through the growing soft skills gap? Often the first response is something like this response from a longtime partner in a large accounting/consulting firm, “This should NOT be our problem to solve! Shouldn’t they have already learned all these old-fashioned basics from their parents? Or in kindergarten? Or at least in high-school or college? Or graduate school for that matter? Certainly by the time they come to work as an associate at this firm, they should know how to get themselves to work on time and behave properly. Am I supposed to teach them how to cross the street too?”
Here’s what I tell my clients: If you employ young people nowadays, then the soft skills gap is your problem. That’s the bad news…
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MILLENNIALS IN THE WORKPLACE
The Soft Skills Gap
What is wrong with kids today?!
There can be no doubt that today’s newest new young workers are displaying their relative youth and lack-of-experience as young people have always done. That’s part of the story. So then why does all the evidence show that the soft skills gap is widening? Is there truly a generational difference in the soft skills gap manifested by today’s newest new young workforce?
Managers tell us every day in our research some version of what one middle-aged manager in a pharmaceutical company told me: “When I was young and inexperienced, I may have been naïve or immature, but I knew enough to wear a tie, make eye contact, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes ma’am,’ and when to shut up and keep my head down and do the grunt work without having to be told over and over again.”
Indeed, the incidence and insistence of managers complaining about the soft skills of their new young workers has risen steadily year after year since we began tracking it in the mid-1990s, when Generation Xers were the “New Dogs” on the scene. Specifically, what issues do managers complain about most? Here’s what managers most often say:
- “They are unprofessional.”
- “They have no self-awareness.”
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2015. Follow the links below to pre-order your copy today!
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