Leadership / Workplace Culture / Generations
Leadership Moment — 4 Jan 23
I was talking to one of my young protégées today (I love using that word — it makes me feel smart — true or not!). She was extraordinarily upset and said she’d been “fired” from her job. I was dumbfounded initially as she’s an extraordinarily hard worker with an excellent attitude and well credentialed. She went on to say the non-profit where she’d just started volunteering called to tell her, “She wasn’t a good fit.”
Wow. She’d only been there for two days. In telling me about it beforehand, she told me all the other volunteers were at least twice her age and all female as well. They were excited to have a young person become involved (she’s 25).
I’ve known this young lady for a long time. She’s sharp, hustles, is proactive, and wants to make a difference. She told me that in the two days, no one had given her any feedback positive or negative. She’s cheerful, outgoing, and enthusiastic. She was also extremely upset when we talked on the phone.
Several years ago, she worked part-time for my brother in his bicycle shop. My brother was a strong leader. Excellent communication skills, technically expert, provided performance feedback, and held people accountable. He was delighted with her work, attitude, and effort.
I’m confident I know what happened. She threatened the status quo. People fear change. They resist it, sometimes fiercely. My young lady came in excited, fired up to make a positive impact and ran into a group who liked the way things were. They’d been there a long time and were comfortable with how this was here and that was done like that and it was clearly good enough because that’s the way they’d done it for the past several years.
I wasn’t surprised.
I’ve gotten in trouble with older employees before. I liked and respected them and thought I was being playful or teasing. They thought I was arrogant, disrespectful, and goading. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained greater appreciation for their perspective. But I don’t agree with it and I don’t care for it, even in myself.