Young professionals – ready for your future?
I work with a lot of younger people who are at the start of what I hope will be a long, fruitful, and illustrious career. Many of them exhibit sparks of brilliance. But they also show their age with impatience, impudence, and an over estimation of their own ability.
Often, I counsel these young people in the hope of helping them become the best version of themselves. I strongly believe that everyone should have this singular aim in their career; to rise and become the best at what they do.
Young professionals face unique challenges, but can also experience many rewarding opportunities for personal and professional development, if they are able to refine their thinking process to make wiser, and more future-oriented decisions.
Here are some ideas that I recommend for someone at the start of their career.
Learn to ask thoughtful questions.
I remind junior members in my team to ask questions, but in a manner that doesn’t grate at more experienced team members. In most businesses, we know that a new hire will have questions and doubts. But to approach someone with in a combative or accusatory manner is off putting.
If you are faced with a new job or are unsure of the best direction forward, asking for clarity or guidance will lead to better outcomes. It also helps you build relationships with co-workers and opens up avenues for being mentored. Remember to ask thoughtful questions, because it will show your line-leaders that you are interested in growth and want to deliver results.
Begin cultivating useful daily routines.
A systematic daily routine will put you on the path to achieving your goals. Setting up a daily routine brings stability to your mind, and focuses your attention on your goal ahead. Many young people run around like “headless chickens” because they haven’t got their purpose aligned to their everyday habits.
Routines like waking up at a fixed time, getting the required sleep for your body, being active through some form exercise, and allocating time daily for reflecting on what needs to be done that day, and ticking things off your list at the end of your day, will control your stress levels and you will focus better at work.
Take any and all feedback.
It is hard to take feedback when it comes in the form some criticism. Our internal defence mechanism immediately goes into “justification” mode. But absolutely nothing spurs growth and development more than feedback. Not just the constructive ones, but also the criticisms.
Early in your career, learn to process and implement feedback from supervisors and bosses. A readiness to reflect on feedback and demonstrate improvement will earn you the trust of colleagues and leaders.
Focus on building and growing your reputation.
Your focus must be on getting noticed for the right reasons at the start of your career. You must be noticed for your graciousness, for being accommodating, inclusive, and being willing to make sacrifices. But many young executives, with their youthful exuberance come across as being arrogant, unsympathetic to the difficulties of their business owners, and prefer to champion the rights of their colleagues, even when not asked.
Remember that people will pay attention to your attitude. Aim to be professional and positive in your daily interactions, and practice boundary-setting between your career and your private life to ensure your workplace behavior is appropriate. Taking on additional responsibilities, volunteering to help colleagues, and behaving ethically at work are all ways you could establish a good reputation early in your career. I cannot emphasise more about how important this is.
All of us are sales people.
Every day when you come to work, you are sales person. Yes, selling a narrative. The story of your value. The people who decided to employ you must feel that they made right decision in choosing you. This is a daily battle for all of us. The moment your boss has regrets about employing you, your intrinsic value proposition plummets.
Knowing how to “sell” yourself without being boastful or egotistical is an essential skill that you will need for sustainability in your career. It will empower you to make connections, succeed in new jobs, and build a positive reputation.
Be open to opportunities
If you examine the career of any successful executive or even entrepreneur, you will find that early on, they cognised the benefit of staying flexible. You will realise as you age that goals change and vary from time to time, and also in tandem with your own expectations for life.
Be open to take on unfamiliar tasks or even a job in an industry you know little about. It might surprise you that an unexpected opportunity may give you a tremendous sense of purpose. It is important to stay focused on your goals, but remain open to new ideas.
This is what I tell all young professional; are you getting ready for your future?