May 3, 2005
Excerpts: Getting Them To Give a Damn - Part III
A profound difference between you and the new breed of kidployee is the way they think and process information. While your mind operates more like a VCR, theirs functions more like a DVD player. Although both devices process complex sights and sounds, one accesses information in a sequential order, while the other can access and process it sequentially, in reverse, or in random order with no loss of time.
Youre probably reading this book much like you do the morning paperfrom the front to the back. I bet you eat your salad before your steak and your steak before dessert. Similarly, when you accepted your first job with your organization, you expected to begin low and work your way up through the ranks. With any new recreational pursuit, you fully expected to start out as a beginner, pay your dues as an intermediate, and consistently practice and move to the next level.
As linear, or analog, thinkers and doers, you and I tend to move sequentially from left to right, from top to bottom, from front to back. Weve been taught to learn, earn, save, then spend. Our parents ingrained into our psyches the need to work before we could play. You and I believe in a natural order of things, the law of the farm: cultivate, plant, fertilize, then harvest.
Your front-liners dont see life that way. For them, life is an all-youcan-eat buffet offering unlimited choice, few rules, and a pay-as-you-go system. They see absolutely no reason to stick with our analog logic in this digital worldnot when they believe in their ability to leapfrog over the painstaking cultivate, plant, and fertilize steps and go directly to the harvest.
Wired for Choices
How could any manager expect employees who were value programmed over the past 20 years to be remotely the same as we were? How could we expect them to think sequentially when theyre wired for a pull-down menu of choices and immediate results? If they dont think like us, they arent automatically in sync with our logic, rules, practices, and procedures.
As an analog thinker (us), you understand the actual flow of life everything you do at this moment yields a future result. You and I grew up in a time that reinforced the dynamic of choice and consequence, cause and effect. Do your homework and get a good grade. Commit a crime and go to jail. Work hard and get ahead. Our decisions were, and still are, made with future considerations in mind.
However, to a digital thinker (them), the principle of choice followed by consequence has lost its power. They know that the good guy often gets the short end of the stick; theyve seen the bad guy get away with it too many times. Even though theyve been cautioned to consider the logical outcome of their actions, they look for ways to avoid the consequences of their behaviora loophole. For them, hard work and sacrifice dont always return a high yield. Doing a bad deed doesnt always lead to disciplinary action. Any mistake is wiped over by simply pressing control-alt-delete.
This basic difference in how they are wired gives you reason to completely rethink your managerial philosophies. What choice do you have?
Failing to understand the way a digital mind functions and adjust for it will lead to frustration and an automatic disconnect.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.