Participant Or Observer

Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash

I was enjoying an article about how Credit Unions need to start expanding their appeal to Millenials and what they can do to tap into that demographic. Right up until the author wrote, “Everyone gets a participation trophy, right?”

While not a Millenial myself, I’m close enough that I’m not unbiased. I am a big fan of Millenials, and have a great deal of respect for them in the workplace. I often become incensed by the association of participation trophies with that generation. I’ve never known a person my age or younger who liked or wanted participant awards. It was a thing of my parents generation that was imposed on us and then gained momentum.

We have a generation with a reputation for expectng them, and yet they are less likely to sit on the sidelines and more likely to roll up their sleeves and get to work. By comparison, I’ve had more workplace struggles with workers from the previous generation or so who expect recognition beyond the scope of what they’ve done to earn it, who fail to push boundaries, and who struggle to achieve in the absense of external structure – the very shortcomings which they like to attribute to Millenials.

For me there is more value in those who are active than in those who are merely present. Yes, the fast paced, interconnected world in which Millenials came into their own creates a unique set of challenges, but it’s long past time for the observers to stop undervaluing the participants.