I'm thinking this could also tie into the whole "quiet quitting" and "lazy girl job" thing, too - meaning they're not keen on making decisions that they might have to answer for. In situations where their role isn't crystal clear, it's easier, less risky, and requires less accountability to just not do anything. Basically, if they're unsure of what to do, that's seen as your problem, especially if you're the one in a higher position, earning more, and thus bearing more responsibility.

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"You must un-learn what you have learned," someone once said. Hard to do, this will be.

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I was born in 2001 and see this pattern of behaviour in myself to an extent, something I'm trying to do better on. But I'm not confused about the source.

Until you leave university, everything really is specified to an absurd degree now. There is a procedure, often arbitrary, for everything - and you learn fast that you either get chewed out or have to deal with even more BS if you don't learn it and follow it. It's left me with a lingering sense that anything open-ended is amateurish.

Some examples:

1. High school, we were taught explicitly to use particular wording to describe bonding structures of atoms in chemistry. Literally the same three paragraphs with only numbers/atomic names changed for this format of question which was in the exam every year. You'd be marked down for deviating from this or at least risk the marker not recognising your answer as correct (I heard of this happening to people).

2. High school again. I got really into King Lear and got some Harold Bloom out of the library, spent a bunch of time getting into the criticism and commentary. Made the mistake of writing a free wheeling essay based on this material in a mock exam, I felt this was the best thing I wrote during HS but also received a fail on it. Teacher explicitly told me she was sad to fail me, enjoyed reading it but had to give a fail since to get marking rubric points you had to structure your essay and paragraphs in a very particular format, literally down to the sentence level.

3. University, med school admin screws up, some people are scheduled to attend a lecture/tutorial while they are also posted in and supposed to be in cities halfway across the country. Students inform administration and arrange the missing people to attend via Zoom. The doctor giving the presentation shows up, has a fit about the Zoom thing, chews out admin and the students get threatened with a fitness to practice violation for not being able to be in 2 places at once (these are career ruining if you actually get one, supposed to be for medical malpractice but administration is very trigger happy about threatening students with them). Even the ones that were there.

I have no frame of reference for how normal any of this stuff is and only recently started thinking some of it might not be.

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You actually made a very good defense for both zoomers & possibly some millennials I used to oversee who are why I still rewatch "millennial job interview" and remember a couple of people. Maybe they weren't just unbelievably spoiled! Got a lot of sympathy for both you and and anyone with an awful boss like that. My first temp job after I moved to LA in 1990

(one previous LA job at a magazine that went under after I'd been there four months--not my fault! & years of Alabama jobs since I was 16 had all gone well) started with other people coming up & warning me not to let "P" get to me, she could be a little rough on new people but was okay once you got to know her. This was followed by P introducing herself "I hope you're not stupid like that the last temp " I somehow still wasn't worried because I'd done well at every job I'd ever had, and had finished in top 1% of every standardized test ever so you know, maybe take day or so to get acclimated & hit my stride but not stupid.

Started with the phone answering. OMG I sympathize with you. Pretty sure I genuinely had PTSD about answering office phones for months. The explosions because I didn't use whatever formula she wanted at every step of the way, tho no prep or advice on this formula ever given.

There was the sequence that went "get me (something)." Looks. Can't find. "Hurry up what's wrong with you." Can't find it." "It's in the drawer." "Which drawer?" "That drawer." "It's locked " "well unlock it what is wrong with you?" "There's no key." "OMG I thought you said you weren't stupid." reaches into cup full of pens and pulls out set of small keys from bottom and hands it to me, further yells when I initially try wrong one, "why didn't you familiarize yourself with the office when you first got here?" "Opening locked drawers without someone telling me it was okay seemed maybe out of line so no reason to search for hidden keys?" More explosion.

I was depressed, probably to some degree clinically depressed, by lunch time. Kept going all day long. Relieved when day ended, horrified when she said see you tomorrow. "You want me back? I thought you hated me." An actual friendly smile and grasp of the shoulder. "You kept trying. We'll give you another chance." I was ready to dive under traffic but she seemed sincere and actually nice there at the end and the rest of the office seemed fine so i showed back up.

Mistake. Blew up & quit middle of the second day only to be told I had already been fired they just hasn't told me yet because they were stuck paying the temp agency for the whole day and I had better stay if I ever wanted another temp job again. I stayed. Another mistake. At some point I dropped a 200+ page non stapled legal document I was setting in the edge of a copy machine and got it out of order and not all the pages were numbered. That went over well and this was in fact genuinely my fault. Berated at length while trying to reorder. Picked it up, made stacks, shuffled the stacks like tarot cards, said, "here you go, find somebody else" & walked out.

Genuinely suicidal by time I left. Like, I drive home wondering if I was truly worthless and all seeming success before then had been a mirage and I should kill myself and spent rest of night wondering if I was an incompetent loser who should die before they could fuck anything else up.

Was shocked when temp agency called me a few days later for something else. Apparently the person after me quit after 2 hours and P was up to 8 people in a row not lasting more than 3 days (how did anyone last 3 days holy hell I admire them!) "Is she the worst bitch ever?" Asked by another woman. "Yes, yes she is."

Fortunately relief was on the horizon as I went on to pursue my dream of working in early 90's entertainment industry, very accurately immortalized in Swimming With Sharks & The Player.

Now I gotta get back to my current non abusive job I actually like!

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Totally agree that we are all products of our time...

I enjoy working with interns, so I was given a bunch and hired several of them. I also had to create several divisions/units from scratch, including mass hiring. I learned a lot from this and agree that the problem is largely with the bosses. I was so successful as an intern coach that I actually ended up reporting to one of them before I retired (I say this as a good thing), and another took my old job shortly after my last promotion.

First, early-stage Xers and late-stage Boomers benefited in terms of hiring (but were hurt in terms of promotion) from a hugely congested promotional chain due to all the early-stage Boomers getting hired and then not saving enough to retire on a normal timetable. This led to a lot of experience in the promotional and hiring chain, which in turn caused organizational leaders to focus less on developing personnel and more on figuring out how to cherry-pick high-quality employees and how to move low-quality ones (think about all the low performers who just get moved around).

This excess of talent was not due to Boomers being special but was a function of generational size...a lot of Boomers meant a lot of competition. It also led to Boomers being better than other generations at scraping...The Boomers were huge in number and fighting each other from the time they started participating in high school sports to when they first entered the workforce. So they were good picking things up without as much coaching.

This is why you see bosses like those described in the article...Some are so risk averse that they will not give an employee a chance to learn...alternatively, some had to scrape themselves and learn on the fly, so they are not particularly sympathetic to people who need some help in that regard. Also, remember that young people are reporting to those who succeeded (i.e., they are still the bosses), so by definition they had some strategy that worked for them and are sticking with it...never mind that times are a changin....They may have been great bosses (or at least functional from the organizations perspective) 10 to 15 years ago...but they suck today and companies who keep those kinds of leaders around now will pay a price.

Younger workers are no worse, just different. They don't scrape as much and aren't nearly as good at figuring things out for themselves, but they have a lot higher EQ and more loyalty than they get credit for when treated properly. They want to join a mission and/or belong to a team; they just need to be led and allowed to fail.

Leading is just a function of allowing them to ask more questions (particularly about processes and without getting all Simon Sinek, understanding the mission. Once they understand the mission and processes, they need to learn to fail. The key is giving them safe ways to fail so they can learn and avoid catastrophic failure. Once they understand that failure is not the end of the world (or at least how to differentiate catastrophic failure from healthy failure, i.e., as in taking a risk with a high expected return and having it not work out), and understand the mission, my experience is that they go all in. In this regard, they can be a lot more productive than older, more burnt-out types.

Finally, I saw a couple of posts about younger people giving up...Please do not buy into that...the world is literally your oyster right now. The Boomers are moving out of the workforce (or already have), there are not enough Gen Xers to pick up even 2/3rds the slack, and workplaces are dying for dedicated talent. You may have to alter your job expectations...i.e., going into something like nursing, policing, firefighting, materials type jobs (and even manufacturing again before too long), and not so much of the sclerotic middle-management in corporations or finance. This is a good thing though...those jobs sucked...

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Great pithy ending there :)

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