Page 43 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2012
43
Brandon Possin, who joined the Foreign Service in 2007, is currently
an economic ofcer in Islamabad. He previously served in Buenos
Aires, Jakarta and Lima. Ambassador Larry Butler, also an econom-
ic-coned ofcer, joined the Service in 1976 and is Brandon’s mentor
partner. He currently serves at a military command in Europe.
Brandon humors Larry’s vast repertoire of “back in the day” war
stories, while Larry wonders how Brandon stays awake during his
workday after staying up all night connecting with friends from
Indonesia, Peru and back home. He has concluded the answer is
“Starbucks.”
Te views expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do
not necessarily refect those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S.
government.
social media on corridor
reputations, this personality
type persists.
Happily, many of their
colleagues have broken the
pattern. But they, too, emerged from a more homogeneous,
lower-tech world with clearer job and personal expectations. Just
a generation removed from President John F. Kennedy’s “best
and brightest,” members of this cohort savored the honor of
being selected to be in the Foreign Service and did whatever the
job required.
In contrast, newer employees—mostly Gen Yers and Mil-
lennials—tend to expect their managers to deal with them as
did their nurturing teachers, parents and youth soccer coaches.
Raised with a closet full of participation trophies, the prevailing
attitude is, “I am special and need to constantly be reminded of
it. We should work on what we want—when and where we want
to do it.” Coming from a world made increasingly heterogeneous
by globalization and access to technology, younger employees
are more likely to assert their individuality and question the
value of nose-to-the-grindstone work.
Growing up in smaller families, more than a few of our newer
colleagues crawled and then walked from one compliment to
another, shielded from failure and criticism. Entering the job
market, often via unpaid internships or volunteer activities,
many have gravitated toward assignments that feed their sense
of self-worth. Tis has produced what sociologists are term-
ing a culture of narcissism:
choose, play and get praised.
Terein lies the gen-
erational gulf of job expec-
tations. Foreign Service
veterans, used to being surrounded by and competing with
highly talented colleagues, are conditioned to see superior per-
formance as the norm—while Gen Yers and Millennials expect
to be treated as the franchise’s most valuable players from day
one. Te veteran ethos privileges routine, and the newer ethos
privileges fexibility.
Veterans value predictability and conformity, while newcom-
ers want autonomy. Veterans want newcomers to listen and
Younger employees are
more likely to assert their
individuality and question
the need for nose-to-the-
grindstone work.