So really – would you hire your own kid? Now, I’m completely the most perfect person ever to answer this question. Yes, because I’m The Tim Sackett, but beyond that I was once hired by my mother – oh wait, I was twice hired by my mother. So yes, that makes me very qualified to answer this question. I’m not really interested in the Nepotism issue within if you would hire your own kid though – I’m more into would Anyone Else Besides You Hire Your Kid? So, what I’m talking about is workforce readiness. I know everyone has an opinion on “today’s” generation and “tomorrow’s” generation and how different they are, blah, blah, blah… this has been covered ad nauseum.
The Conference Board put together a nice piece on Workforce Readiness a while back: Will You Want to Hire Your Own Kid? (Will Anybody Else?) by Susan Stewart in which she argues:
‘High school and college graduates are showing deficiencies in both basic and applied skills, and a real lack of preparedness for today’s world of work. Workforce entrants are caught between an educational system that teaches – and measures – one set of skills and a rapidly evolving workplace that demands another.”
Now, we know this isn’t necessarily anything new – probably for the last 20 years, if not longer, HR Pros have been arguing this point – heck this single issue has spawned our ever expanding Organizational Development industry because companies are now forced to either grow their own talent or steal it from a competitor who grew it for them – no longer do we get any real functioning worker out of our educational system. Just give me someone who can read, write, calculate and actually want to work and I’m pretty sure I can turn them into a productive contributor.
Stewart believes that there are actually 7 Survival Skills (adapted from Tony Wagner’s, The Global Achievement Gap) that our new graduates must have but are not getting in our current educational environment:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurialism
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Curiosity and imagination
So, who’s to blame? How do we fix it?
First, let me answer our original question: Would you hire your own kid or would I hire your kid? No. Your kid is an idiot and guess what – you made him/her that way. Yes, you did this – not public/private education, not government, not your alcoholic parents, not your job, not the bully who picked on you in 2nd grade – you – the parent made this mess.
Here’s the deal: We (yes, I’m a parent – sorry kids) went right ditch, left ditch on this parenting thing, and like every generation before us, our kids are paying the price. Let me give you some small examples, which many of you will recognize from “other” parents doing this:
- Problem solving: “Mommy! Timmy hit me!” “Oh no son, let me go right over to Mrs. Smith’s house and we’ll have a conversation about this, because that’s how to solve problems.” Actually, no that’s not how to solve problems. Tell Johnny to get off the Xbox, get his over-sized butt outside and deal with Timmy. They’ll figure it out, you don’t need to be involved.
- Collaboration: When I was a kid, we played games all day long without a parent ever being involved. Today’s kids don’t get together to play anything without it being set up by Mom and Dad, and then the parents are all hovering around them. Stop it. Put kids in a similar area, and let them do what kids do. They’ll figure it out – you did.
- Agility/Adaptability: Look, I like schedules and organization – but if your kid goes completely berserk because you served Fruit Loops for breakfast instead of Fruity Pebbles – you’ve got a problem – and you created it. Force your kids to adapt frequently – they’ll be better for it.
- Entrepreneurialism: My Dad made me pay for half of any athletic shoe I wanted – and he never gave me money for my half – I had to earn it by doing work for someone else. Get your kids selling and working early. Let them do a lemonade stand where they actually make the lemonade, make the signs and pay you for the supplies – and please don’t be the first one to buy, make them work a little.
- Oral and Written Communication: I’m sticking to oral on this one – have you ever had a conversation with your kids on the phone? Pretty bad right? Would you hire them after a phone screen? Spend time coaching and role playing with your kids on the phone. This might be the single most important step in landing a job – and so many people fail at it.
- Accessing and Analyzing information: STOP doing your kids’ homework and giving them the answers. Yes, I know you do this! It’s okay for them to struggle and not get an “A” a few times in their academic career – and state college will do them just fine. I personally know of adults who will do the majority of their kids homework just so they will get all “A’s.” It’s happening all over the place.
- Curiosity and Imagination: When, as parents, did we decide all kids have to be the same? And when did we actually allow our kids to perpetuate this myth? Our curious and imaginative kids get labeled as outcasts quickly in public education, and in our parental zeal of having our kids “fit-in,” we allow this to happen. Let your kids be unique. Encourage them to be unique. Employers need unique!
My Mom hired me and then let me go when I got too big for my own britches – forced me to go out and become a big boy, then hired me back when I became a true professional. I don’t think many parents today could do that, and that’s a shame. I’m better for it – and I’m certain to raise my 3 boys in a way that others will want to hire them. Most parents don’t think about that – will someone want to hire my kid – believing that’s what school and college is for – don’t believe that lie – that’s what you are for. Now, go make me some better employees!