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September 2009

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Take a Message to Garcia

By Sean Sparks

It was with some degree of consternation that I put the phone down after a rather heated discussion with a young financial advisor. You see he was upset with the fact that he had just heard about a client cancelling a deal, and was looking at a rather ‘lean’ paycheque for the month. My concern was with the fact that he was off on vacation right now and had no discernable plan to write any new business in the next few weeks. Oh boy, where was I going wrong? I felt the thoughts creeping automatically through my mind; “What is it about the younger generation? Why don’t they get it?

This issue seemed particularly relevant because several of my colleagues had recently been discussing the challenges associated with managing the ‘Gen-Y’s’ or ‘Millennials’ as we’ve started to refer to the younger group of advisors at ours’, and several other offices. I had heard most of the comments before; “It’s the way their generation thinks”, “they need to be managed differently”.

A cold shiver ran down my spine as I realised where I had heard some of these comments before. It was 20 years ago and my father was pointing a disparaging finger at me and a group of friends “What is it with your generation? In my day we did things a lot differently!”

It was then that it started to dawn on me that perhaps it wasn’t about generations or age groups at all. Perhaps you just get ‘right stuff’ and the ‘wrong stuff’. Now I’m sure that my Dad is mildly disappointed that I never became a professional golfer, but he’ll probably begrudgingly agree that I’ve at least managed to ‘make something of my life.’ On that day, however, he was probably as frustrated with me as I was with that particular advisor.

People are going to decide for themselves if they are going to get ‘radioactive’ as the following article describes. As manager’s we can play a small role in training and development, but probably the biggest contribution we can make to our respective organisations is to help identify individuals with the ‘right stuff’, regardless of age or generation group.

The article entitled ‘A Message to Garcia’ was very eloquently written by Elbert Hubbard in 1899. The language is colourful and might even offend some people in our politically correct society today. The observations are thought-provoking though, and just as relevant today as they were in 1899. Enjoy the article and see if you can go out and find the right people to ‘Take the message to Garcia!’

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