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‘Helicopter parents’: Should you take cover?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

What are "helicopter parents"? Moms and dads who hover over their children, even after they're grown--and even in the workplace. A recent Chicago Tribune report on the phenomenon tells of parents sitting in on job interviews, calling managers to complain about work decisions, redoing their children's assignments, coaching their kids before they meet with their supervisors, and otherwise inserting themselves into the employer-employee relationship.

The report cites a Michigan State survey in which nearly one in four employees report parents being directly involved in their recruiting efforts. Obviously, this sort of hovering strikes many managers as inappropriate. But it's inevitable, say workplace experts and employers cited by the Tribune.

Today's young workers--"Generation Y"--are the offspring of baby boomers who have managed both their own careers and their kids' lives with an intense focus on success. Recruiters for high-end jobs with high-end firms--who may themselves be this kind of parent--know it's unlikely their targets will make career decisions without their parents' guidance. So they've accepted, or even welcomed, parents as "part of the team."

But what should you, as a manager, do to keep mom and dad from hovering over your workplace? Consultant Bruce Tulgan, an oft-cited expert on managing younger workers, tells the Tribune you need to assert your own authority by "monitoring, documenting progress, rewarding success, guiding and directing every step of the way." Being an active and proactive manager should give you needed cover when the "helicopters" start hovering.

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