Santiago Gutiérrez
Vice President of English Language Learning
Pearson
/
Expert Contributor

How to Attract Talent in the Age of the ‘Glass Generation’

By Santiago Gutiérrez | Tue, 12/21/2021 - 09:05

We live in an era in which technological, scientific, and social paradigms are constantly changing. The post-pandemic era and climate change just to mention two issues of current global interest are making us rethink the way we approach important topics, such as health, the consumption of clean water, interpersonal relationships or the use of energy.

Some other archetypes, however, have remained and have even gained in importance, such as the increasing need for soft skills in the professional world. These skills have become an essential requirement to be successful in any job or task.

Soft skills are all those social abilities that a person can develop apart from their technical knowledge or career path. The ability to communicate efficiently, to work as a team, to empathize with the needs of their peers, find creative solutions, lead projects, or socialize, among others, are crucial in the working environment.

These skills are essential for working teams to be productive and committed to a common goal. They cannot be taught at school, but rather, learned at what we commonly call "the university of life." In sum, the combination of soft skills and "hard" knowledge yields a more balanced assessment of what a person has to offer in professional terms.

But what happens when empathic, caring, and competent people run into an authoritarian, self-referential boss or a boss who takes a comment as a personal offense in the middle of a work meeting? Or when a recruiter does not know how to gauge an applicant's adaptability or resilience, and within a few months discovers that he recruited the wrong person?

The Argentine sociologist and writer Claudia Messing, who specialized in bond therapy, highlights in her research that soft skills are formed in the first years of life. According to Messing, since the 1970s, the authoritarian parenting model has collapsed in Western societies, replaced by closer and more affectionate family ties. As the fear of parents no longer existed, children began to copy them as if they were in front of a mirror, in a symmetrical way, and to feel like “adults” from the earliest childhood, a phenomenon that makes them more self-sufficient, but also more demanding. "This comparison with adults generates a feeling of devaluation when they receive instructions or are told what to do," says Messing, a description that fits perfectly with the profile of children and young people who were baptized the "Glass Generation,” a term established by the Spanish philosopher Monserrat Nebrera.

As adults and in their role as professionals, those who were symmetrical children suffer when they receive orders, indications or criticisms of their academic or professional performance because they feel them as disqualifications. They cannot empathize with their colleagues and work as a team because they need to be recognized in their own needs, or they experience any response from their subordinates as disrespectful.

By now, readers will be wondering if this is an article about business, organizational culture, or psychology, and I say we are talking about those three topics. The prominence of new approaches in human resource management means that executives must talk about psychology in the same way that we talk about marketing, finance or logistics.

Photo by:   Santiago Gutierrez