Attendees include Dean Xavier Costa and Dr. Susan Ambrose, senior vice provost of the school along with fellow alumni and parents of current students.
At one point, a parent was bemoaning the oft-discussed sense of entitlement that seems to be permanently attached to Millennials and the fast-rising Gen Z’ers who are following them.
Dr. Ambrose, who joined NU from Carnegie-Mellon, said the perceived sense of entitlement of the young is a common complaint among parents and, when it occurs in the classroom, is called, ‘the expert blind spot.’ Ambrose describes this as “the state when instructors are blind to the learning needs of novice students. This happens because the experts are at a state of unconscious competence, while novices are often at a state of unconscious incompetence…”
Thus, they miss an opportunity to connect, and learn.
Translating that academic-speak to the real-world, Dr. Ambrose suggested we Gen Xers and Boomers may be blind to Millennials’ needs because we already know so much about life. Conversely, she says of Millennials, “The more you don’t know, the more you think you know.”
That’s spot on, and leads me to a recent social media incident involving former employees.
In our nearly two decades of existence, we’ve routinely posted significantly lower turnover rates than our competitors. The 2012-13 time-frame, however, was an anomaly because our largest client at the time decided that, after seven years of award-winning work on our part, they needed a global agency. C’est le guerre.
That decision, though, forced us to cut costs and, unfortunately, lay-off a few employees (something we hadn’t done since the dotcom bubble burst). We did our best to treat the departing employees with dignity (and dough). Some beat us to the punch, and jumped ship before we asked them to leave.
Regardless of whether they left, or were asked to leave, a small group begun posting negative and nasty comments about Peppercomm as well as photographs of themselves celebrating “their escape from Peppercomm.” That’s fine (and certainly understandable in the immediate aftermath of such an incident).
Now, though, a few people who have left Peppercomm under completely different circumstances (and were told the door was always open if they’d like return) began popping up in similar Instagram or Facebook photographs with their predecessors.
That photograph in, and of, itself is harmless. But, when one links it to some of the previous ones, creates a certain distaste of the entire group.
Make no mistake that some of these alumni are doing very well. Others are well-heeled and may never have to work another day. But, according to the grapevine, a few are struggling and will be looking for new jobs shortly.
And therein lies the danger of unconscious incompetence. For reasons known best to them, this group assumed their visual and written post-Peppercomm social media outings would somehow escape our attention. They didn’t.
So, when a future employer calls a member of our management team asking for a reference on one of these individuals, we will confirm his employment, but that’s all. And that, in turn, will signal the future employer to steer clear.
I’m writing this blog not to ‘out’ the offending alumni but, rather, to alert other junior executives as well as every college and university students to avoid unconscious incompetence.
I know the more I learn the less I know.
Millennials need to understand, if not embrace, Dr. Ambrose’s words of wisdom: “The more you don’t know, the more you think you know.” To which I’d add, think before hitting the send button capturing any after-work libation.