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Hiring Children of 'Helicopter Parents' Places New Challenges on HR Execs

Editor's Note: CURE (Credit Union Retired Executives) is sharing advice with Journal readers based on questions it receives and responses from the numerous retired CU execs it has recruited. For more info: http://www.curetiredexecs.com/

Q: A Human Resources vice president asked about strategies for re-educating the new "me" generation coming into the workplace.

A: This generation is the result of what are known as "helicopter" parents - parents who literally and figuratively hover over their children all the time, trying to ensure that their children never have to experience pain or hardship or loss or frustration. Extreme cases of helicopter parents are called "Blackhawks" for the battle-ready helicopter in combat use today.

What does this mean? It means that, in many cases, these children are being exposed to the real world for the first time when they come in for a job interview. I have seen parents who accompany their children to the job interview, try to negotiate compensation on their children's behalf, and follow up with a phone call or e-mail afterwards to find out how their children did. If they find out that their children made less than a perfect impression, these parents will plead their case or make excuses for their children.

It's no wonder that this generation of employees has little understanding of what is expected of them. They don't understand why they need to come in on time every day, dress a certain way, communicate and behave in a certain way, and be held accountable for doing the job assigned to them. They are typically bewildered if they aren't promoted after a few months (and we've heard from the parents at this point, too). The source of the problem is the parents and the expectation they've built over the years of hovering - that everyone gets a trophy even if they come in last.

You have to start with the very basics and assume nothing. You'll need to conduct a "boot camp" about reality. Begin by spelling out what is expected, from timeliness to dress code to conduct. Hold them accountable for their performance and their attitude. Don't assume that common sense will prevail or that they even understand the very basics of financial matters. In most cases, this generation has been coddled and they need to understand what is expected, not everyone gets promoted, not everyone gets a salary increase, you have to perform and hard work is rewarded.

The rewards can be tremendous. This new generation is both intelligent and technology savvy, and once motivated and oriented to real life, can prove to be fine employees who go on to accomplish great things for the CU.

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