Leadership Notes

Where Has The Work Ethic And Respect Gone?

         A constant complaint that business owners, corporations and non-profits share with me in training conferences is the fact that their employees have no work ethic and show no respect for authority.  This complaint is wide spread and comes up a lot.  I know it is a challenge for them and it is a challenge for those of us born between 1940 and 1960.

        We must ask ourselves, “What happened?”  What has taken place to cause those under the age of forty (40) to be so different from our generation who knew how to work, set goals, and respect our employers, parents and our church leaders.  Although there is no easy answer, we can recognize a few things that have contributed to this “break-down” in society, as we once knew it.

        There was a time when the local community, the church, the schools, and the media had one voice all speaking the same thing.  They taught the same values and morals.  If you got in trouble at school, you were automatically in trouble at home.  By the time the school bus dropped you off, your parents already knew.  If you got in trouble at church, the community, the school, and home knew and went to work to get you straightened out.  In those days, the media was our friend in building values and morals.  We had programming like Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, etc….  Young people today feast on programs like The Simpson’s, Sex And The City and cable porno.  Their magazines and music glorify sex, violence, and hatred of all and any kind of authority.

        One of the problematic causes of the challenge is that everything around us has broken down.  The family is broken.  More kids live in single parent homes than a home with a mother and a father.  The church is broken.  More Christians are consumed with materialistic gain than sacrificing for the development of the young people all around.  We throw our money at the problem, but not our heart or our time.  The educational system is broken.  Schools no longer focus on reading, writing, math, and science.  They are expected to be the social worker, the parent, the police officer, and whatever else is lacking in the environment of our youth.  The teachers have no time to teach and no authority to discipline.

           In other words, our youth are not being taught.  No one holds them accountable for anything anymore.  Parents cannot teach and discipline because they are just hanging on to survive.  The school system cannot teach because parents do not want you correcting their child and society have decided that the school has to be everything to everyone.  The church can’t teach because kids don’t want to come to church and tired or passive parents don’t make them come to church services and youth groups.  When I was a child, we did not make the rules.  We did exactly what our parents, teachers, clergy person, police officers, employers told us to do.  No one was out roaming the streets and getting into trouble.  We had home chores to do in addition to our schoolwork.  In the summer, we worked and helped with the family expenses and saved money to buy our own school clothes and supplies.

        The solution as I see it has to do with taking back control and establishing order at home, school, work and church.  Parents need to back up the school and teachers need to be freed to teach the basics.  Parents need to discipline their kids and back up the school, the church, and all other areas of authority.  The church needs to be person oriented instead of program oriented, and we as citizens must stand up in our local communities and fight the media when they are not helping us to produce well-adjusted, productive individuals. 

        The next time an employee is disrespectful and is not worth their pay, fire them! Let there be a consequence.  The next time your child talks back and does not do what you’ve asked, ground them, spank them, discipline them in some way.  Let there be a consequence.  The next time a youth in church is in trouble, assign several adults to mentor and monitor.  Let there be a consequence.  Throw away tapes, CDs, DVDs, and all other gadgets and magazines that do not teach good values and morals.  Who said that your kid could watch and listen and read anything they wanted.  Parents stop being afraid of your kid.  You are not supposed to be their buddy, you are supposed to be their parent.  Let there be consequences for wrong choices.

        Until we as parents, employers and clergy change in how we are dealing with our youth and change in what we allow our society to put in our kids; we will not see a good work ethic and wholesome respect as the norm again.