Whether you like to accept it or not, the world is constantly changing, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it becomes an issue when other things don’t keep up with this ever-changing world; most noticeably the education system and the workplace.
Thursday 19th March marked the first Young Professionals event held in Milton Keynes by Susan Popoola. Susan identifies herself (from a Myers-Briggs perspective) as an INTJ, which means that she lives in a world of ideas and strategic planning. Susan believes in the value of people to organisations, which she calls the ‘Human Value Optimisation’. As a professionally qualified Human Resources professional, Susan has a strong understanding of talent management, transformation and social conscience. Through this knowledge, Susan aims to support young professionals by researching and developing the most effective processes for engaging young people in the workplace and wider society.
Susan contacted myself (Dan – Lead Coach for Life Step Management) in order to discuss what key areas we could support Susan for this event. We strongly believe in what Susan is trying to do and wanted to be a part of the first of many events to support young professionals. I have been doing a lot of work with young people over the past few years, especially in local colleges and I completely agree that there needs to be more support for young people.
Times have changed
10-15 years ago if you had a 2:1 degree from a good university, you’d be guaranteed a job but that’s not the case anymore. A lot of people have degree so what are people doing to separate themselves from the rest? It’s not just ‘communication’ or ‘good leadership’ or ‘team player’, it needs to be more and you have to be able to go really deep to uncover your unique characteristics and attributes. I’m talking about life skills, emotional intelligence, story telling, innovation, process thinking, deductive reasoning, soft skills…these are the things which can’t just be taught through ha text book. They require someone to ask the right questions, to place people in uncomfortable situations, to have regular feedback and reflection time and quite frankly, these techniques are not practised enough.
For a first event of this kind we had good numbers turn up. ‘Unfortunately’ the young professionals who did turn up were mostly from a Law background. This sparked good conversations but they all had similar experiences and issues. However through some good questioning and debates we were able to uncover many themes and topics so I take that ‘unfortunate’ statement back.
The event was very laid back and after introducing ourselves to each other; we immediately opened the debate to the table. For the next 2 hours we sat and discussed about all the issues they have had in the workplace, what could be improved as well as what was good.
My Ideal Organisation
Our first topic was ‘What would be your ideal organisation’. A lot was covered so I’ll list the main themes we discussed:
Time (working at your preferred times).
The most interesting thing that came up during this discussion (or that didn’t come up) was money. When discussing their ideal organisation, rewards such as money wasn’t discussed. The most important things were personal development, work-life balance and the people. Money will always be there but it’s the people focus that they cared about most which says a lot.
Starting a Job
We also discussed the support young people get when first entering a job. Some came straight from school while others went to University, did some work experience and then started their role. What worked better? What support did they get? Here’s what came up:
Experiential learning – ‘The best way to learn is by doing’. Everyone agreed on this. You can read as many textbooks as you want about your role and the organisation but the only way to properly learn is by doing, learning, and doing again.
Trust – Trust links into the learning part. I know when I had my first every work experience I was trusted a lot with difficult tasks and I found them very difficult and made a few mistakes. However as a result of this, I felt empowered, learned from my mistakes and have never forgot those skills. If I was too scared to take on these tasks OR if the person was too scared to give me responsibility of the tasks then I would have developed at a much slower pace.
Support – Support in all kinds of ways. Support means listening to the persons needs and guiding them in the right direction. It’s all well and good trusting someone to do a difficult task but you need to support them in the background. Does the manager entrust the person with the task and then sit them down at the end of the week to discuss how they got on. What did they find difficult? Why? What can I do to help you improve next time? These things are vital in a good organisation but don’t seem to happen enough.
Does school prepare you for work?
The simple answer that came from this? No, they don’t. Qualifications are important (maybe more so in Law than other fields) but they’re not the ultimate factor in preparing someone for work as we have already identified. More needs to be done in the form of mind-set, self-value, confidence, networking, emotional intelligence and something just as simple as, having a purpose.
Brand and Image
For the last 30 minutes, I delivered a presentation on Personal Presence. Personal Presence relates to your brand. What is a brand and most importantly, what is YOUR brand.
A brand is a promise to yourself. A promise of who you are going to be, every day, to every person you meet, for the rest of your life. A strong personal brand is a consistent brand.
The Stare Game
After identifying what a brand is, I got the young professionals to do the stare game. In pairs, they stared at each other for 30 seconds. No words, just observing. An uncomfortable task for many people. I then get them to feedback what they observed about each other. Typically individuals will be nice because they are in the same room but sometimes things are raised that the other person wasn’t conscious about. This goes to show that other people constantly judge you without you even knowing; so are you in control of how you are perceived by others?
What is your colour?
As a fully-trained colour analyst, I was able to advise the young professionals on how identifying your colour can help you in building a stronger personal presence. If you are wearing the right colours, you are looking brighter, fresher, more awake and have more of an effect on other people when you walk into a room. What are you doing to stand-out and define your own brand? Start finding your uniqueness.
Overall the event was a success. It goes to show that there are many issues in the workplace and education that need to be addressed order to support young people in the workplace. Through these kind of workshops and the work Life Step Management do with local communities, we hope to create clearer pathways for individuals and help create more opportunities for them to explore. Some people may be more fortunate than others to be born into a certain family or community which could potentially affect their chances of finding the right opportunities or to develop a different mind-set to others. However this just highlights the importance of having people who have been through similar experiences to guide and support such individuals in making the right decisions and motivate them to create their own legacy.
‘We can’t help how we are born into this world but we can control how we leave it.’
If you liked this blog then please like and share this to your friends and family. We are looking to support more of these events so make sure you follow us to keep up to date. Also if you are interested in developing your own personal presence through our coaching or colour analysis sessions then please email - firstname.lastname@example.org