Bulldozer Parents and our Gen Z Workforce

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.

Build Confidence and Competence

confidence competence modelIf 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?

See Also: 10 Common Excuses That Silently Damage Manager’s Careers- Fast Company

leadership development Karin Hurt and David Dye

Posted in Winning Well.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Parents in an interview with the child? That sounds over-the-top. My parents were supportive but never crossed boundaries into my career. It seems the issue is boundaries. Maybe we should make all parents sign a declaration that they will nurture, protect, encourage, facilitate, support, connect, discipline, and drive kids to their extra-curricular activities until the child is able to do these activities for others. When the child can mentor others, the parent should lay off mentoring. When the child can facilitate, the parent should lay off facilitating. After all, the goal is to someday to get them to independence! Any declaration-writers out there?!

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