I was listening to CBC Radio's parenting columnist, Karen Horseman, the other morning and I had one of those Eureka! moments. She was talking about how young workers are changing the social dynamics of traditional workplaces. And she was discussing how parenting styles are responsible for producing these new workers and instilling in them the idea that they should be treated as more than just junior employees. It was all very interesting, but the Eureka! moment came when I realized she could be talking about young hockey players and their coaches, rather than 20-something workers and their bosses.
Here's the part of Horseman's report that struck me:
(Young people are still entering the workplace with this huge sense of entitlement. Nora Spinks is a motivational speaker and workplace-relations counsellor. She says "Young people expect to be given work that's challenging, they expect to be treated with respect, to get challenging work from the first day, to have access to senior executives, they expect to have involvement in decision-making."
New employees in their twenties who are described as the "net generation" feel their bosses, who are often boomers in their fifties or traditionalists in their sixties are arrogant. That they demand respect just because they've been there for a long time and never like to be questioned. That they have little flexibility and often turn up their noses at technology. How to bridge the gap between the two? Spinks says: "The first thing is awareness. You have to be aware of your own gender, generational, cultural biases. Because you can't look at anything or anybody else's behaviour...either observe it or manage it or coach it or develop it without understanding it...and then you need to have a dialogue."
The net generation and the generation behind them, known as the "I" generation are used to getting a lot of feedback. Some say it's the result of video games or overpraising parents. So the manager that was raised with the "Because I said so" parenting style may find it difficult to deal with the generation that is used to being asked for their opinions and told to be criticial thinkers. )
Doesn't that sound exactly like the criticisms of Guy Carbonneau's coaching style? He came from a generation in which the coach was sacrosanct. You didn't question, you just did what he said. And you were glad to have the opportunity to do it. Now young players are entering the NHL with a sense of entitlement. They want to have the coach's decisions explained to them, and they want to have a say in what their roles will be. I think Carbonneau either didn't understand that difference between his generation and the one he was asked to coach, or he didn't buy into it. Either way, I think there was a fundamental problem when the players failed to respond to his message.
So, when the team is looking for a new coach now, it's got to be someone who gets the Net generation. Without that vital understanding, communication is impossible. I'd like to see a well-respected, established coach with a good track record in Montreal next year. But, even more important I think is the coach's ability to make the players accept and absorb his message. Look at Blysma in Pittsburgh. He gets the young guys and speaks their language. He manages them in a way they appreciate.
Sadly, the days of players' unquestioning obedience to a coach are over. Young players want to be nurtured, not bullied. I hope whoever's on the short list to be the Canadiens' next coach speaks "Net." Without it, he won't last long.