How to Effectively Work with the M-Generation Chapter 2 of 7

 “To prevent or manage a crisis, focus on learning as much as possible as soon as possible so that you will be able to build relationships with the people who could be impacted. This includes customers, employees, and social media followers. If you do this, you will find yourself communicating with the right people at the right time and in the right place.” – Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Bluegrass Public Relations Society Speech

In Chapter One of this series, we gave some general behavioral insights into the M-Generation, the people born between 1982-2000, who are currently entering the work place. In this chapter, we will look at the common characteristics that further define this generation and how to effectively deal with them.

As Baby Boomers and GenXers, our parents invariably worked hard and often long hours to provide us a better life. Parental involvement was limited, and our parents trusted us to our teachers and coaches, pastors and Sunday school teachers.

Parents came to ballgames, plays and special events. We knew that if the principal or teacher called our folks because of our unruly behavior during or even after school, we would suffer the consequences, and, yes, there would be some parental involvement at that juncture! This parental involvement did not include blaming any one else for our misdeeds. We were expected to accept responsibility for our behavior or accept the consequence.

Enter the “Helicopter Parent”

brown wooden floating shelves mounted on beige painted wall
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

However, in the last 30 years, we have seen a major shift in the parental role as parents have become more involved socially and educationally with their children. As a result of this era of “parents being the child’s friend”, the parent is no longer in a role of authority in their children’s eyes.

Millenials became their parents’ “colleagues” and “associates”, and with the proliferation of the cell phone, the kids were never far from the “nest” of the parents. So, enters the “helicopter” parent, and the parents, in many cases, enjoy this relationship because psychologist say it “gives them more meaningful lives” and therefore they don’t choose to or want to “push the child out of the nest.”

The Millennials are fine with this because they are not seeking or striving for independence in many cases. Educators and others have observed this trend for years.

Yes, it is the M-Generation that chose to live in their parent’s basements as long as possible while finding themselves and their calling whereas the Baby Boomers fought for and sought early independence from their parents the Millennials prefer the security of the nest.

Teachers, and counselors in some cases, have appreciated more parental involvement, if it was not “too much”.

Employers, on the other hand, frankly have little to no interest in parents “helicoptering” their Millennial employees.

“Sadly, it is increasingly common for employers to receive phone calls from a parent wanting to discuss problems or a disappointment their (adult) child has had at work says.” Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman, authors of The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” (Harper Collins, 2010).

Employers have even reported that Millenials have told them they have asked their “Mom or Dad as their colleague” to review their work or even do it for them. Just like they did in school and sadly, in this author’s opinion, many parents do so. These same parents maintain even more control of the M-Generation often by paying their bills, buying them cars, food or clothes and taking care of their children because after all these children are the “grandchildren” the Boomers and Gen-Xers always wanted.

Lancaster and Stillman note that one of the bigger surprises experienced in the work place is when the new hire millennial shares some feedback from a parent, who happens to be a senior vice president at a similar company.

This feedback about how the parent could do things better, if they were in charge, is not solicited or appreciated by the employer.

Senior And Young Diverse Colleagues Talking Eating Pizza Togethe

Simply, the M-Generation view their parents as valuable resources whose counsel and input will be as vital for their work life as it was when they were students. When you hire a millennial, you will get the parents as part of the bargain, whether you like it or not.

Initially, I thought this was hyperbole or outrageous complaining until I actually observed such behavior from a member of my own extended family. Since I left home at age 17 and paid my way through college, I found this enabling behavior to be an antithesis to my idea of maturity, healthy self-reliance, and productivity. I would dare to say that much of society feels the same way. But then, apparently there are a lot of helicopter parents who do not.

However, based on my own observations and research, I recommend that you forget about trying to change this perspective, or debate with the new hire (or their parents).

Whether this perspective and behavior is appropriate, healthy, or mature is irrelevant to them. The reality is you must accept the fact that this “parental helicoptering” and the M-Generation’s social behaviors are now at least 20 years into solidification, and you are not likely to change that perspective anytime soon.

There are strategies, however, that can be deployed to deal with this M-Generation behavior. One is to articulate and clearly establish boundaries up front in the working relationship regarding your feelings about parental involvement.

For example, personnel records, including performance reviews, are generally considered organizationally confidential and are not open for discussion with anyone other than the employee and her supervisors. This is a distinct and most appropriate boundary that you should clarify to a new hire in case his parent wants to explore his child’s experience at your company.

However, some researchers say it might also help to understand the close relationship Millenials have with their parents by viewing it the same way they do – as an asset when it comes to “reflection” on work place issues.

Remember these Millennials are products of parental engagement. They have been sharing and processing their experiences with their parents from the earliest of ages.

If your new M-Generation employees seemingly have this kind of relationship with their parents, encourage them to involve their parents in reflection on their profession, roles, responsibilities and chosen vocation. Do not, however, allow them to think that you and the parents will be having this kind of relationship.

Remember that Millennials don’t readily grasp the concept of confidentiality, especially in conversation with their parents. Therefore, it is important to provide them clearly articulated and well-defined guidelines on what kind of information is inappropriate for such conversations.

Lancaster and Stillman note that a Millennial’s relationship with his parents is the template for interaction with other older adults and authority figures.

If you can objectively observe or ascertain from his comments how a Millennial interacts with his parents, you may uncover clues on how he hopes to relate to you as an older colleague.

If your new hire sees his parents as a perpetually available resource, he may expect the same from you. If he is open to their counsel and coaching, he may readily accept the same from you as his mentor.

Accept the fact that you will have to spend extra time and attention on the Millennials, which can be burdensome at times. However their enthusiasm for your input may leave you feeling more gratified than grumpy.

Next: The single greatest complaint about Milleninals from employers – Part 3

Churches, irrespective of size, must plan to ensure the safety of their congregants #churchsafetyministry

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Churches, like any other businesses in today’s environment, must take steps to ensure the safety of their congregations.

Because emergencies happen to all businesses, a thoughtful and resilient emergency plan of action is prudent.

As of December 19, 108 people were killed in churches in 2017.

When an active shooter on November 5, 2017, killed 26 people and wounded 20 at a rural Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas,  media, public, and political concerns reached a new high.

This church attack was the deadliest active shooting by an individual in Texas history and the fifth-deadliest in the United States.  It is the most devastating active shooting in an American place of worship in our history.

Such events disappear quickly from the front pages of  mainstream media, and many people, including pastors and congregants, resort to thinking, “it can’t happen to us.” Hopefully, it won’t.

Although the chances that your congregants will be involved in such an attack are slim, church leadership must accept the possibility and plan for this and all other possible emergencies.

Having worked in the field of crisis communications, prevention, and management for 40-years, I believe in and practice with my clients “ praying for the best while preparing for the worse.”

Organizations that do so will survive and recover; those that don’t suffer severe and often irreparable consequences.

This series of columns will provide insight into the questions that church leaders and pastors must consider as they plan for the safety of their congregants.

Planning for the necessary personnel to respond, the communication of the event, training church personnel, and the event follow-up should cover issues such as:

  • Why houses of worship need an emergency response plan and the types of emergencies to include.
  • The importance of a facilitated dialogue with leadership and congregants about developing an action plan that includes law enforcement, emergency response, legal and insurance personnel a process we call “Collaborative Informed Consent.”
  • Considerations of hiring professional security personnel or using volunteers, including a “talent inventory” from your congregants.
  • Conducting a risk analysis and evaluation of your church facility, parking lot, and personnel.
  • Why your institution is a “soft target” and how to “harden” it by quickly achieving “soft” and “hard” lockdowns.
  • Having trained “screeners” and the options for action they must take when an incident develops.
  • Understanding your internal and external communication needs and venues before, during, and after a crisis.
  • Considering non-lethal and lethal options.
  • How to gather intelligence and ensure confidentiality.
  • How to protect children and seniors who are the most vulnerable members of your congregation.
  • Understanding what an active shooter is and how they think.
  • The times of day and the days of the week your church is most vulnerable.
  • The role of active or retired military, law enforcement, and concealed carry permit holders on your security team.
  • What you must communicate to your congregation about your plan and what they must do in the event of an emergency, including an active shooter.
  • Whether you should post signage, and, if so, what should it say?
  • Establishing proactive establishment of post-event counseling and recovery assistance.
  • Teaching self-awareness and using the “see something, say something” strategy.
  • Pros and cons of “Run, hide and fight.”
  • The need for “Stop the Bleed” first-aid kits and training.

Further information

These columns share the expertise gleaned from our four decades of experience in crisis planning and management and those involved in church security nationwide. We challenge you to explore what has become a vitally important role in today’s houses of worship – safety and security and not just to conclude that carrying a weapon in a house of prayer is all you have to do to protect your congregants.

Interested persons can find additional information including an introductory video on church security, podcasts, and downloadable materials at www.churchsafetyministry.com. A pilot webinar is under development, and those interested in participating in this pilot can register at our website to receive announcements of future presentation dates.