Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

E-Tips: Multi-Generational Solutions Archives

Bookmark and Share

Parents As Managers, "Helicopter Parents," and the "Boomer Flexibility Paradox"

I've always had a knack for spotting patterns, making connections among various trends before most other people see them. An intriguing set of factors I am ruminating over now – set out in the title above – raise some provocative questions.

When I recently attended an interview with Michael Critelli, CEO of Pitney Bowes, a people-centered and very effective leader, some of these threads began to come together for me when I heard one question put to him: After talking about his parents and what he learned from them, he was asked if he “parents” in the workplace. Unfortunately he did not really answer the question and went off on a tangent, but it got me thinking.

Trying to connect the dots, I pose these questions:

  • Do the helicopter parents (those that hover too much and interfere) exhibit similar behavior with their juniors as they do with their children? Do they bring their parenting style to the workplace to over-protect and push their people ahead?
  • Or do they take an opposite approach and expect great results without giving the guidance and support they want for their children?
  • Why do some HR managers and others besieged by over-reaching parents cave in to their demands to attend kids' job interviews or receive job offer details? In my opinion they should draw the line in the sand and simply say,“That is inappropriate. No.”
  • Are Baby Boomer managers (only some of whom are “helicopter parents”) hard on younger generation workers because they are demanding the results they would like to see from their children, but without the coddling they give their kids?
  • Is it because many Boomers are so competitive and status conscious that they want everyone (children, junior people on their work teams, etc.) to make them look good?

Here I need to point out that Generation X has its substantial share of helicopter syndrome parents, but their offspring are not yet ensconced in the workplace.

  • And what about that “Baby Boomer Flexibility Paradox” (a term I coined)? Wanting flexibility themselves, when will they embrace it without stigma for the younger generations they have the power to make policy for?
  • Would the Boomers want and push for more flexibility/life balance for their kids or expect them to echo their high intensity behavior?
  • Lastly, are you thinking all this questioning and reflecting is too much baby boomer analysis?

Work and family are separate, but the blurring of lines as work expectations have crossed the lines to encourage the 24/7 dedication of large numbers of professionals and executives leads me to believe these are questions we need to think about. With so much on their plates, most people take little time for reflection. What are the effects of our behaviors on our children and our younger professional colleagues? Are the results what we truly desire as managers as well as parents?

More on these patterns and connections and how we might use an understanding of them for better talent development coming later.

Please contact me with your thoughts and responses to my questions. These questions are fodder for great discussions between mentors and mentees, affinity groups, associate relations and professional development committees and human resource directors. Call on me if I can help.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2007. All rights reserved

For coaching, training and special programs on inter-generational relations and maximizing the potential of young professionals, call Phyllis for an exploratory talk or complimentary coaching session at 212-593-1549. See and We also provide *Next Generation, Next Destination* transitioning planning programs and services for baby boomer senior professionals and their firms.

*Next Generation, Next Destination*, our re-designed blog about transitioning planning and the generations has been launched.
Go to to read, subscribe and comment.

Phyllis is available to speak at your organization or at firm retreats on inter-generational relations and organizational effectiveness topics. Call or e-mail for a list of topics or to custom-tailor your own.

Publication rights will be granted with request for permission.

If you think our e-Alerts address significant issues requiring serious attention, please forward them to everyone you think would be interested. Upon request they can receive a complimentary subscription directly. Send an e-mail to with "Inter-Generational Relations" in the subject line.