Category Archives: Viewpoints

The Employee Void

“Too many of the young adults who seek employment with me want to show up, go through the motions and get paid,” an experienced business owner shared with me. He was very frustrated that although he had work available the majority of his prospective applicants had no intention of actually doing any work. He had run into this time and time again.

That conversation led to this article. For the past month or so I have polling business owners, supervisors and former business owners asking for their comments to one simple question, “What skill do you find most lacking in the potential employees you meet?” I had nearly 100 responses from a variety of sources. The results are very troubling.

The top issues noted are lack of critical thinking skills, lack knowledge of the trade, lack of passion for their trade and lack of work ethic. Out of these four only one is technical knowledge; the rest are soft skills that are transferable to any other job and high useful in their day to day life. The rest of the list encompassed thirteen other undesirable qualities and all of them are soft skills.

Critical thinking skills are those qualities that tell you to hand a knife cautiously, or tell you not to grind stone near the clients car, or how about the kid who didn’t know the difference between wetting the floor and actually mopping it. Unfortunately too many workers especially those with substandard education do not engage their work. They merely complete tasks without thinking of the end goal.

Knowledge in the trade means just that. If you say you are cook you should know about cooking. The same goes for any other trade. One supervisor shared this with me, “candidates aren’t willing to put in the time to learn their trade, but they demand the high pay.”

Those who listed a lack of passion for their trade explained that too many people are looking for a job without really knowing what they are looking for or why. Too many aren’t willing to learn their trade because their heart isn’t in it. Imagine if your doctor had this attitude. Work conversations should be more about work related matters and not gossip.

The biggest flaw, by far, is lack of work ethic. Unfortunately I have witnessed this all to often, not just in the work place. Many of the young people I have mentored have failed to work hard in school, on an athletic team and once they hit the work force the problem continues. Except that now they have entered the adult world and second chances are few.

Many of the young people I have mentored have had all the answers for their behavior. The most frequent excuse is “they ain’t paying me enough.” I have taken my time to patiently explain that in the world of grown ups we have to earn our keep by producing enough revenue to merit a raise. No one gives a raise simply because you need it. However, most of my explanations have fallen on deaf ears or another excuse has surfaced.

“Too many young people are not future focused. They do not understand that the pace of change will never be slower then it was today.” A business owner shared this statement with me. He is correct. There are too many young adults who do not understand how life works. So who is to blame? Is it the parenting they received or the lack of parenting? The biggest influence in the life of all human beings is their parents. Let’s start there. Many of the young men I have mentored do not have the understanding of the world, ways of the world and what is required to live their dreams. They merely exist. They enter the workforce with little understanding of what it is to build a career and plan for the future. They are like pinballs in the work force. It is easy o say that they need to get a clue, but it is difficult to change the culture they were raised with and morph it into something they don’t understand and therefore doubt. The answers lie in one-on-one guidance of a trusted friend.


The Value of Structure

Structure is vital to all children, even during their summer school break. As parents we struggle with the notion of our little darlings having no down time to just be kids. But letting them sleep in until noon just because school is out is not a good plan either. Sure summer time should about fun for everyone, but just like adults need to have a balance so they can work and do other necessary things such as housework, so too a kid needs balance as well.

Athletes, are perhaps, the best example. They are usually have the busiest schedules, even during the summer time, they are usually excellent time managers and they usually make up 90% of the honor role. Do they have time to play? Of course they do. And they usually do it while maintaining balance.

The Role Model

Parents are always role models. You are a generation ahead of your offspring and therefore are always in the next phase of life. However, it is important that you behave your age and fulfill your role properly.

The age of your children is irrelevant. They will always look up to you. You don’t have to know everything about present day technology. It is your wisdom they seek. Whether you are a good or a bad role model is your choice.

Surviving the Great Uprising

Adolescence will seem, for most parents, like the time of the great uprising. Herein, all the moral values you have taught and modeled will matter the most. The opposite is also true. The values you failed to teach and model will come back to haunt you.

As in the case of one mother who asked me during the question and answer session, after I gave a speech, what she should do since she had never set down any rules for her child. The short answer: set some rules and hang on for the ride. The long answer: WW III is about to begin at your place. Good luck.

Courtroom Advice

Appearing before a judge with a bad attitude will most certainly not produce the results you expected. As incredulous as it may seem, there are those who actually have appeared in court with an attitude and expected the matter to be resolved in their favor.

Once I remember a young man grumbling out loud that he needed to go. He was in a hurry. So the judge called his case, relieved him of his driving privileges and sent him on his way. Another time a woman slammed the door on her way out and was quickly escorted back into the courtroom. She stayed the night a guest of the county jail.

Speak Directly

Speaking directly to a teen does not mean it is a negative conversation. It will prepare them for the world. Too often I hear adults, mostly  parents, skirting an uncomfortable issue for the sake of their teen’s feelings. While we should never attack and insult we should also call death, death. We should call an overdose, an overdose.

The world and its ways do not care what bothers you or your child. Over protecting them from facing reality does not prepare them for it. If anything it places a false veil over the actual events. The best way to deal with the grim realities that accompany a tragedy it to call it as it is.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.