We need to ease the pressure on the young. Why individual mentoring and coaching will grow in importance
By Chris Sheppardson, Managing Director, EP
I was recently in a shop and my eye caught sight of a sign that read “Thank God I grew up in the 80s as there is no record of my indiscretions anywhere!”
It did resonate. Yes, partly because I was certainly less than perfect but more because my generation grew up in a time where we could make mistakes, make fools of ourselves and would only a handful of people would know. Making a fool of oneself without repercussions is an important part of growing up.
There is a strong belief today that social media, most especially, allows for a far more critical approach that simply never would have happened in previously times. One can see this with the Emily Benn story of recent weeks when the abuse she has received across social media would never have happened in previous times or when face to face. For some reason, social media allows people to be more aggressive and ruder than they would be in real life.
Regardless, we need to recognise that the young grow up in a far more pressurised environment than my generation ever did.
Modern society does seem to have built a highly pressurised environment for the young to grow within. The school system has moved from educating a rounded human being to one which is focused on attaining exam results. Some will argue that the young are now cleverer as a result but the counter is that they are less rounded and possess less worldliness.
The University system builds more pressure through large debt and does make a slight mockery of Blair’s commitment to “education, education, education”. One could argue the system today is worse than the one his government inherited. Whether this is true or not, there is little doubt that by the time that the young enter the workplace they have already grown in a narrowly focused pressurised environment and there is a need in to develop a broader focus and mind-set as it is only through understanding a broader perspective can one really grow as a leader or insightful manager.
Then let’s add in the extra pressures of smartphones and social media. Great inventions no doubt but research has indicated that in the US many teenagers spend around 7-8 hours per day on their smartphones.
There really is an exceptional young generation emerging that wants to create change just as those in the 80s and 90s did.
Research also notes an increase in depression occurred in tandem with the rise in smartphone use. A 2017 Study of over half a million eighth- through 12th-graders found that the number exhibiting high levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33 percent between 2010 and 2015. In the same period, the suicide rate for girls in that age group increased by 65 percent.
Smartphones were introduced in 2007, and by 2015, 92 percent of teens and young adults owned a smartphone. Over that same time period, there was a sharp increase ( 30%) in reports of students seeking help for depression and anxiety.
The argument is that all the above has also heightened the growth in the “I” society when actually the real natural desire is for a “We” society. There is a natural swing back to the “We” society that will be seen but still there is a need today for businesses to understand the need for the development of the mental approach of the young. The system will not change so their focus must be on creating new approaches to help develop talent.
There really is an exceptional young generation emerging that wants to create change just as those in the 80s and 90s did. The view is that those that entered the workplace in the early 00s were the least radical and idealistic of generations and it was this group that accidently ran with the new innovation and exciting developments of the age. The new generations that are now entering are very different and possess a different perspective. There is an onus to help their development and this is where good mentoring and coaching could play an invaluable role – helping develop a wider perspective and looking at issues through different eyes. It is important to create a legacy that allows the young to grow, make mistakes, and learn.