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What Bulldozer Parents are Doing to Our Gen Z Workforce


I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know bulldozer parents were a thing until Friday night. When did helicopter parents become bulldozer parents?  Are they really bulldozing at work?

I had to Google the whole “bulldozer parents” thing after having dinner with some HR execs who were attending the keynote I was giving the next day. Every single person at the table had at least one story of a bulldozer parent. Most had more. It made for a sad, twisted sort of entertainment. But there’s nothing really funny about what overly protective parents are doing to our future workforce.

“Don’t you hate it when a parent comes to the interview AND ANSWERS ALL THE QUESTIONS?”

“Or when you are doing new hire orientation, and the mom comes too, AND proceeds to supply all the answers? AND  then when I suggest to mom that their child needs to take responsibility… the mom gets the gist and gets quiet… and the kid doesn’t have a clue what to say next and keeps looking at Mom?”

“Or when the Dad pulls strings to get his child hired. And then, AFTER ALL THIS ADVANTAGE, the child keeps screwing up… and said Dad then intervenes AGAIN to defend the behavior…Exactly how is this helpful… for anyone?”

Dear Bulldozer Parents,

I get it. You want the best for your kids. So do I. You’ve learned a lot the really hard way and you want to save your kids some steps.

Despite all your best intentions and deep love for your children, your helping is hurting. All this extra support is undermining your children’s confidence and credibility. The last thing you want is HR recruiters comparing notes talking about you and your kid.

Of course, you can help. Give them interview pointers, help them turn their experiences into stories for the situational interview, and when they screw up, give them a big hug and encourage them to try again.

Related: 5 Ways to Be More Influential

Build Confidence and Competence

If they’re lacking confidence encourage them.

If they think they know it all, coach them on their blind spots.

If they’re strong and full of confidence, challenge them to go for something bigger.

And if they’re struggling with the basics, don’t coddle, take a step back and teach them the basics.

Your turn.

Are you facing bulldozer parents intervening in their children’s careers? Are your Gen Z employees struggling with the basics? What advice do you have to help parents better prepare their children for today’s workforce?

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