Several years ago, I worked in management. I was the Loss Prevention Team Leader at a store in a fairly large chain. I was not a rent-a-cop, just for the record. This job position was part of the overall management team in the store. As such, I participated in management meetings where we often discussed how best to motivate the employees. One idea that came down the pike was to use these little coupons that were good for one candy bar. The idea was to reward an employee you saw going above and beyond the call of duty with one of these coupons. Not a bad idea, I thought. But it didn’t take long before employees came to expect getting these coupons, just for doing the basics of their job. In fact, one manager began handing them out to employees just for showing up for work!
Personally, I’ve always felt your “reward” for doing your job was the paycheck at the end of the week. If you go substantially beyond your normal duties in the interest of doing a great job, then sure, you might deserve to get a little something extra. But, to get a special treat just for clocking in on time?
I know every generation looks down upon the following one. At times, I feel as though I’m turning into a grumpy old curmudgeon, bitching like I’m the just-caught villain in a Scooby-Doo cartoon and upset about “…those meddling kids!” But, facts are facts. The younger generation today is all about entitlement. What can YOU do for ME? And this has been going on for quite some time now.
Society encourages this by rewarding mediocrity like it is excellence. We don’t have losers anymore in juvenile athletics. EVERYONE gets a ribbon or trophy, just for playing along. We’re ALL winners! This, quite frankly, is a load of crap. I’m not saying we should discourage kids from trying. I’m just saying that by treating them in this way, they become “programmed” to expect it throughout their lives. Heaven forbid one of these kids faces the reality that they just aren’t absolutely perfect human beings.
Academically, they are graded on a curve in many classes or other means are implemented so as to prevent any student from feeling even slightly inferior. Much of the time, teachers are hamstrung from the get go, what with all this “No Child Left Behind” nonsense. The predictable result of No Child Left Behind is No Child Gets a Quality Education.
Kids all have different abilities, different talents. Part of the job of both parents and professional educators should be to help kids determine their individual talents and how to best use them in their lives. Being able to fog a mirror should not be considered a major talent and it certainly isn’t a skill worthy of reward.
When did mediocrity become excellence? Well, my buddy John Burks might have the right of it when he says, “When we tried making everyone the same.”