Adulting: How do young people learn life skills?

Flying without a Helicopter Book Cover finalI came across an article in the LA Times today about how college students at UC Berkeley have started up an “adulting” course.  They created a student-run course to teach life skills to each other because they’re not learning them anywhere else.  The question is, why aren’t they learning life skills in life?

One of the students interviewed for the article says that kids don’t learn life skills from their parents because parents don’t trust their kids to be able to handle things.  The parents do it for them.  Schools have also taken life skills off the curricula in favor of academic courses preparing children for standardized tests.

My take on this is that the kids must resort to teaching each other adulting skills because all of the adults in their lives failed to prepare them for adulthood.  Parents, teachers, professors, administrators, and government protection agencies have disempowered children to the point where they don’t know how to take care of themselves when they grow up.

Presumably, these adults had good intentions to protect the children and give them the academic skills they thought were needed to succeed in life.  Or is it that they felt the need to control their children’s lives to fulfill their own insecurities?  In either case, the outcome is the same: many young adults are missing critical skills to succeed in life.

It is troubling to see that the college students don’t trust the adults, just as the adults don’t trust the kids.  And we wonder why there’s such a strong generational divide!

I offer a small solution, my book, Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life.  I wrote this book because I saw how this problem was arising and I wanted to help young people (and their parents) prepare for life.  I’m there for young people and old.  If you want to talk, schedule a meeting with me, free of charge.  I am an adult who supports adulting.

Another solution I offer is building trust between the generations.  My Collaborating Across Generations workshop helps people in the different generations better understand each other and work together.  We need less Millennial bashing and fewer “OK Boomer” comments and more leveraging of our different perspectives and work styles.

360-degree Feedback Assessment

Individual 360-degree Feedback Assessment

Every leader behaves differently with different people or roles in the organization and they are perceived differently as well.  A 360-degree feedback assessment provides a mechanism for a leader to receive honest feedback from people in different levels or functions in the organization.  A 360-degree feedback assessment reaches out to people in different functions in the organization to get their perceptions of the leader’s performance along several relevant leadership dimensions.

Context of 360 Assessment

A 360 assessment often occurs at the outset of a coaching engagement or leadership development program, or just because the leader wants to learn how they are doing.  In any case, it is useful to work with a coach for at least three sessions to learn about what to expect, receive the feedback, and follow up with a development plan.  We only conduct 360-degree feedback assessments for development purposes.  If you would like to conduct an assessment for hiring or promotion purposes, see our other assessment offerings.

Confidentiality of 360 Feedback:

One of the reasons people seek external consultants to run 360-degree assessments is that it ensures confidentiality and anonymity to participants.  We take that very seriously, as well as security.  Since we only conduct 360s for development purposes, we also only give the reports to the recipients of the 360 feedback, not to HR or other leaders in the organization.  Rather, we teach recipients how to share their feedback with others and have development discussion with their supervisors.

Typical 360 Assessment:

The leader and 6-12 work associates complete the 360-degree Feedback Survey either in an online instrument online (about 30-45 minutes each) or in telephone conversations with the consultant (about 20 minutes each).

  • The work associates include a manager, a group of peers, a group of direct reports, and an optional other group, such as internal or external customers.
  • The assessment is conducted externally by the coach or coach’s organization to ensure confidentiality of participants.
  • The participant shares names and contact information of the raters and the coach coordinates the communications to the raters.

The 360-degree feedback instrument is selected to match the context of the leader, team, and organization.  For example, it may be one of the following.

  • EQi 360, an emotional intelligence based instrument
  • SVI 360, a semi-custom approach with a write-in option for each item
  • 20-minute phone interviews with the consultant


The report is typically a comprehensive 360-degree Feedback Report for the chosen instrument, but it can be a summary from the consultant interviews, and it is always accompanied by a meeting with the coach.


The leader participates in a 2-hour meeting with the coach to go through and ensure understanding of the 360-degree report.  The discussion centers around the following points.

  • Compare and contrast the feedback from the individual and others and identify strengths and development opportunities.
  • Determine which strengths and areas for development are most relevant to the individual’s leadership goals.
  • Incorporate the participant’s strengths and development opportunities into a development plan to accentuate their leadership strengths and address their leadership gaps to strengthen their overall leadership platform.

To learn more or get started, schedule a quick call.

Team 360s

A 360-degree feedback assessment may be conducted at the team level or individuals on the team may have their feedback rolled up into a team report, where their individual ratings are anonymous. When a whole team goes through a 360 feedback process, it opens the door to honest feedback and constructive, empathic conversations on how to improve.

To learn more or bring a team 360 to your team, schedule a quick call.

How much will it cost when your key people leave?

NetworkingHow likely are you to lose your key employees?

According to Gallup, only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. And only about one in five say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. What’s worse, 51% of employees are actively looking for new jobs.  The answer is, you are very likely to lose an employee very soon.

How much will it cost when your key people leave?

What does it cost to replace an employee?  The range is large, but it is expensive at any level.  Studies show it can cost 20% of a low-to-mid-range position and more than 200% of a high-level or executive position.  Let’s look at the numbers.  The cost to replace a mid-range administrative manager being paid $40k would be about $8k.  But the cost of a highly educated contributor, director, or executive who’s paid over $200k would be over $400k.

What goes into calculating turnover costs?

  • Hiring (advertising, interviewing, screening, hiring)
  • Onboarding (training and management time)
  • Lost productivity (months, years to match a high performer’s level of performance)
  • Low team engagement (other employees are affected when someone leaves)
  • Customer service and errors (new people don’t know what they’re doing and make mistakes)

The costs may be much greater in your company, especially if a key person leaves at a critical time.  Missing a release deadline could cost the company funding or market share.  Lost knowledge could cause a faulty product to be released.

How will you keep your best people?

The top way to keep employees today is to engage them.  This means allowing them to do meaningful work that helps them grow.  When people are doing something that matters and are growing in the process, they are likely to stay.

Sixty percent of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important” to them.  The problem is that people often don’t know what they do best, and it’s even harder for their employers to know.  The solution is to assess what people’s natural talents are and let them do work where they apply them.

A fun way to assess people’s natural talents is in a team-building session where people self-assess and share their talents with their team members.  People get excited about their discoveries and they learn how to better engage each other in projects.

If you are leading a team and you want to keep your key players, you may want to give our Strengthen Your Team Team-Building Activity a try.  It costs only a small fraction of what it costs to lose someone, and it will pay back even more in terms of the increased productivity and engagement of your team.  You will also have fun discovering how your own natural talents come into play.