Getting Them to Give a Damn
By Eric Chester
Dearborn Trade Publishing, $19.95
I don't know exactly what it was about this book that made me uncomfortable. Maybe it was the term "kidployees." Maybe it was the suggestion that, whenever possible, you should "...use clever jargon and cool language to make your employee manual, employment application, etc. more fun and attractive." Maybe it was Chester's personal stories. I thought the one about his dog Tucker and the shock collar, which was to illustrate the point that rules must be enforced, was a bit much.
To understand what Eric Chester is talking about in Getting Them to Give a Damn, you first must understand the term "kidployee." A kidployee is a member of our "young, emerging workforce," an employee who has come of age in the late '90s and beyond. They're not necessarily teenagers, because the term includes even employees in their early twenties.
The basic difference in how these kidployees are wired, says Chester, "...gives you reason to completely rethink your managerial philosophies. ... it's their utter disrespect for authority that prompts you to shake your head and think, 'I could never have gotten away with that when I was their age.'" Utter disrespect? Well, I don't know about that.
Chester uses the example of Opie, a character from "The Andy Griffith Show," as the kind of young employee we want to hire. Throughout the book he tells us we should recruit, hire and retain Opies. He introduces his GAD (Give a Damn) continuum, which identifies kidployees from level 1—angry employees who sabotage an organization—to 10—total buy–in.
Part 1 introduces us to kidployees and sets the stage. Parts 2, 3, and 4 tell us how to recruit, retain and connect with kidployees. The last part of the book highlights companies that have been successful with their mainly kidployee employee base. Chester does have some great tips for hiring, rewarding, and retaining employees. But his readiness to generalize about kidployees undermines his credibility, and occasionally makes him sound like a curmudgeon.—J.L.