You Have To Be Hungry - Part III of III
“Personal mastery means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living life from a creative as opposed to reactive viewpoint.”
- Peter Senge
As I mentioned in Part I and II of this series, both organizations and individuals must be hungry to reach their goals, regardless of their generation or the goal being pursued.
Part I focused on how organizations must truly be “hungry” to attract, retain and motivate their employees as a necessary first step in making it possible to attain their goals. Part II focused on the best strategies for seasoned professionals to attract, develop, inspire and cultivate talent across generations. This final Part in the series will focus on young professionals.
Since the series began, I have received numerous emails from young professionals on our listserv. Many of them understand that they often come across as self-centered and impatient, and wanted to know how to come across more favorably.
As one 24-year-old wrote, “…a number of young professionals feel that the ‘real world’ owes us special treatment. It seems that Generation Yers have an ego that tells us that we are the best. Personally, I fit this category until I began my career with XYZ Company, where I have learned to take a step back, listen to the more experienced generations, and find a way to partner new ideas with existing procedures. This combination will provide a knock-out punch to the marketplace and help any organization grow.”
Just as this young man pointed out, being “Hungry” to move forward in your career as a young professional, requires being patient, listening for opportunity, and finding ways to “partner” with seasoned professionals. Below, I will explain these three concepts:
Before taking the necessary time to gain an understanding of the business or organization they are a part of, many young professionals want to get on the fast track immediately, expecting rapid promotions, consistent and constant feedback, and career development assistance from the start of their employment. Many don’t even know where the fast track will take them or where they would really like to go! Let the first six months to a year be focused on learning about your organization and where you fit best. During this time, you can begin developing important relationships and building your personal reputation. Learn more about your organization by doing informational interviews. Focus your energy and attention on leaders who have a positive attitude and are clearly willing to assist you in learning your way around the organization. If your goal is to excel, become the person who is willing to do what is necessary to get the job done. (As a Gen Yer, I will assume you have already thought about the importance of setting your own boundaries and managing your time.) Listening for Opportunity Look and listen for ways to assist your organization and team in reaching their goals. Go out of your way to let your leadership team know that you are on board with the mission and eager to support them.
Help them where they need help, including filing or answering phones. In addition, let them know what you are most interested in doing. You will come across as a team player — promotions and pay increases will be a natural by-product.
Remember, leaders are going to promote people who get the job done and have a positive attitude. If you participate in negative conversations about your organization, you are setting yourself up for missed opportunity.
When you are an asset to the team, are definitive about experiences you desire and clearly articulate them to your leadership team, there’s a very good chance you will get the opportunities you seek. If you are only focused on your personal desires, you will come across as self-centered and may miss out on some great prospects. Look for opportunities to be a team player AND ensure your leadership team knows about your future ambitions.
While you may not always understand why some systems are in place — in fact, some organizational systems may seem like a waste of time and energy — know they were put in place for a reason.
Perhaps the system has outlived its purpose and is no longer valuable to your organization. (I’ve seen this many times.) Yet, seasoned professionals are accustomed to the present systems and may be reluctant to change. When they do decide to change, it will be because you have helped them see how this will help your organization, and even more importantly, make their job easier. We call this “What’s In It For Me” or WIIFM.
While you have a fresh set of eyes and brand new ideas, you have to present your ideas and desired experiences in a way that the leaders understand how they will benefit. If they think your idea is going to put more work on their desks, they will be less likely to give it a go. If, however, you help them understand that you are taking responsibility for the necessary work, they will be much more likely to listen and, perhaps, begin making changes. Also, understand that any worthwhile change does not happen overnight.
When “Hungry” professionals take responsibility for bridging the communication gap within their organization, they can create “a knock-out punch to the marketplace and help their organization grow.” The truth is, neither young nor seasoned professionals are “right” or “wrong,” they simply see the world differently.
What is “right” is staying focused on your organization’s vision/mission and ensuring that your individual career aspirations are in alignment with them.