Top cop slammed for generation insult

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Working Australians have slammed the Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw for his bold claim regarding how much “praise” each generation requires from their supervisor to do their job well.

While speaking to the Senate Estimates Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Commissioner Kershaw discussed workforce habits, with his comments sparking a generation war.

Before explaining how Australia could “develop (its) workforce”, the Gen X-er “dropped in” a controversial fact that would later backfire on himself.

Commissioner Kershaw has come under fire for a “stereotypical” comment he made regarding Gen Z. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanCommissioner Kershaw has come under fire for a “stereotypical” comment he made regarding Gen Z. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“I think this is interesting, we learned too that Gen Z – the younger generation – need three times a week praise from their supervisors,” Commissioner Kershaw said.

“The next generation (Millennials) only needs (praise) three times a year, and my generation only need once a year.”

Generation Z refers to those born between 1997 to 2010, while Millennials are born from 1981 to 1996 and Gen X are from 1965 to 1980.

Commissioner Kershaw then later attempted to tackle the generation divide when it came to the use of emojis.

“I saw some emojis that Gen Z use that are actually offensive, but my generation are sending these emojis,” he said, before alluding to the “happy face” emoji.

“That can actually mean the opposite in Gen Z language, I’m happy to give you a briefing on that.”

According to, the smiling face emoji replicates someone feeling “warm and fuzzy” and can sometimes convey “mild embarrassment” due to its rosy cheeks.

As for the slightly smiling face emoji, website Moji Edit said it can mean a few expressions such as feeling “fine”, positive or alternatively has been called “the emoji without a soul”.

Emoji meanings aside, Commissioner Kershaw’s subtle attack on each generation sparked fury across the generations, with many stating his accusations were false.

“I think the Commissioner missed that Millennials are more likely to give feedback & less likely to accept substandard management practices,” one Gen X-er commented on Twitter.

“I say good on them! They learned early on that the loyalty demanded is never returned and people are considered disposable.”

The Commissioner tried to explain how emoji meanings different across the generations. Picture: iStockThe Commissioner tried to explain how emoji meanings different across the generations. Picture: iStock

Another Gen X-er said there were better ways to provide feedback to younger generations, opposed to accusing them of wanting more praise.

“I am 58, older than this bloke. I know how to communicate with people of all ages without stereotyping them,” they said.

“I also never use the ‘back in my day’ way of looking at things because the world has moved on from the 1970s and I prefer to keep up with it.”

Meanwhile RedBridge Group Australia director Kos Samaras went as far as providing statistics from generational change expert Professor Jean Twenge to indicate why the Commissioner’s statement wasn’t entirely correct.

“Well, Commissioner Kershaw is not going to enjoy the political ride these young Australians are going to take him on. We have plenty of data but the best is from the US,”

Mr Samaras tweeted.

The first graph accompanying Mr Samaras’ tweet revealed how Generation Z and Millennials were siding with a more liberal approach opposed to their Gen X and Boomer counterparts who are more conservative.

Meanwhile in the second graph, those born from 2000 onwards were more likely to correct inequalities and donate compared to those born prior.

“In the US Millennials and Gen Z – especially Gen Z – are the kindest generation. Remember the point we have recently made about this being the most empathetic generation in Australia? In the US they are also discovering the same,” Mr Samaras concluded.

Others suggested the Commissioner take his own advice by praising his workforce more.

“The Commissioner needs to get out & about more. He needs to learn how to motivate. He needs to learn not to stereotype. Oddly, it seems he needs to learn how to lead,” Smart Energy Council President Steve Blume said.

Another person commented: “Has it occurred to him that positive reinforcement is a way that his employees know if they are doing the job well/correctly?”

Finally Stephen Gentle who works in the systems engineering sector offered this piece of advice to the Commissioner.

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“This kind of thing is much more of a personality type thing than anything to do with generation,” he said.

“With good, frequent communication and honest feedback most people shouldn’t need any additional ‘praise’.”

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