The Trophy Generation

A recent TechServe Alliance survey suggested the biggest obstacle staffing company owners are facing with regard to sales is finding qualified sales executives. A full 55% said it was their number one challenge. I’ve had a theory about this for a while and I would like to share it.

It all begins with a story that happened more than 20 years ago. A life-long friend of mine had invited me over to see his oldest son play in his final soccer game of the season. The child was six or seven years old at the time. The game was a disaster, as was the season. At dinner that evening, the mother of the child was explaining to me how excited their son was about receiving his very first trophy. I made the comment that they must have had a terrific season compared to the one game I just witnessed. The doting mother chuckled and said that their team actually went 0-11 for the season. This led to a rather interesting conversation on the merits of awarding teams and individuals for failure under the auspices of there should be no winners and losers.

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Fast forward 20 years to today. My theory is simply that young individuals entering the workforce today have gotten trophies all their lives no matter what place they or their team came in. As a result, they have been conditioned to expect reward and praise no matter the effort or result. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for rewarding participation and hard work, especially at a young age, but not to the level our society has become accustomed to.

I currently have a number of clients who want to engage with me but for the fact that they simply can’t find a junior sales executive. A couple of these firms are using headhunters as well and are still having a very difficult time finding entry level sales talent. I wonder if young people these days are so conditioned by “the trophy effect” they are not willing to take on a job that is inherently difficult at the start, but eventually can offer a great deal of delayed gratification.

As I always like to end my blogs on a positive note, there is good news. If you happened to be a 20-something-year-old, know this: half the battle is showing up every day and working hard. If you do just that, you’re going to outshine many of your generational colleagues who are still sitting at home admiring all their trophies.

MORE: Millennials in the worplace

Chris Cosmos

Chris Cosmos
Chris Cosmos is founder and managing director of Cosmos Sales Professional.

Chris Cosmos

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One Response to “The Trophy Generation”

  1. PittisIt says:

    This reads like a recycled clickbait article that adds little value.

    It would be much more helpful to share ideas on how today’s aging managers can improve their leadership skills to adapt to a new workforce. Unfortunately,this article reads as an ignorant, anecdotal admonishment of the newest demographic in the workplace. Millennials are the most resourceful, quickest learners in our workforce; to be so egregiously dismissive is unfortunate.

    I love managing Millennials because they are the most efficient, fearless, curious, and creative members of my team and they enjoy sharing their knowledge and ideas with the more experienced individuals they work with.

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