Are we doing enough for our emerging talent?
By Jay Carlin, Head of Development, Emerge UK
In a conversation with my nephew this week, he shared with me that he was struggling to find a graduate placement for when he finishes University in 2019. Connor has been studying Economics and Management at Portsmouth University and has so far achieved a first and is still on track for that result by the end of his studies – very proud uncle moment and he deserves it as his work ethic is incredible at the tender age of 21.
Connor shared with me that he has applied for at least 8 graduate schemes across the South and London and has done very well to get through to the final stages of all applications… having gone through so many different forms of assessment and challenges you can probably imagine he has experienced so many interviews, application forms, psychometric tests and assessment centres. He has also been required to travel to all locations and has taken time (and money) to show his commitment…not too easy as a student I’m sure you’ll agree.
Here comes the most disappointing thing for Connor. Not one of these organisations offered him any feedback for his application being unsuccessful, preferring to simply say ‘no thanks’ at the final round of selection.
I’m sure not every organisation approaches their grad programme applicants with such a lack of care and responsibility. I do believe that the younger generation must get used to not being successful at everything and be prepared to take feedback and continue to learn, adapt and grow. But we MUST prepare them for this and have a responsibility to offer them a chance to reflect, learn/conclude and plan for next time or the next opportunity. Would we honestly ignore feedback opportunities for employees in the workplace?
People like Connor (Millennials) belong to an instant gratification world. Since childhood, most (not all) have been smothered in support by their parents, teachers and coaches. Technology has given them the answers to their questions within seconds. Whenever they have heard an interesting song, they downloaded it. When they posted a status update on social media, they received comments and secretly long for the ‘likes’. They never wait nor do they prefer to wait. And why should they? The world is technologically sophisticated. The need to wait or have patience is increasingly becoming an alien trait. Despite the increase in sophisticated technology, our level of sophistication around helping people to learn and grow continues to be a challenge.
· How let down must students/employees feel when the most crucial of conversations is being ignored?
· Do you see this happening in your workplace? How about at home?
· How about within your school or university systems?
· How about when watching your children playing sports… or is this frowned upon through fear of ‘offending’ or ‘upsetting’ the individual or are there too many ‘coaches’?
Maybe it is time to take a look at our ‘intent’ and how we go about executing this message…are we truly intent on helping people to perform better? That being an opportunity to address their competence, confidence and motivation. Perhaps the conversation is ignored…is it possible that on occasions there is an element of self-preservation that is at play here? If I say that, what might they say about me…? Whatever the reasons are for ignoring the opportunity to help people grow, there is an even bigger missed opportunity for showing people that we genuinely care and that we can be trusted to support them to move forward.
Back to Connor (and admittedly an ‘overly-protective’ uncle moment)… I can actually see that he is becoming more and more dejected and is now questioning why he even went to University at all! His morale is dwindling because he cannot see the higher meaning or purpose. In his eyes, he is not seeing the fruits of his labour. How many other students are feeling the same way on the back of such experiences? What about employees that don’t receive any feedback…are they thinking ‘why did I even bother’? Are we comfortable with allowing any learning to be lost, for morale to regress, for employees, students and potential talent to turn their back on the organisation?
If you’re someone in a position to help shape emerging talent – whether this is through a graduation programme, perhaps you are part of an HR department or you are a manager of people, it’s time to step up and take responsibility for supporting people with feedback and embrace your role as a leader. It is your responsibility, now more than ever, to nurture, motivate and grow your employees. Simplify the task for everyone by giving feedback. A proactive attitude will turn feedback into a regular part of your working life. Just like corporations that seek to embed innovation into the DNA of the workforce, you, too, must embed feedback into your organisation’s environment. The more it’s done, the less challenging it is, the more trust is built and the more that people around you will look to innovate, challenge themselves (and others) and raise their standards of performance. Providing short, consistent, balanced and frequent feedback sessions are more effective, and in the long run, less awkward, than waiting for the ‘stereotypical’ annual performance review (which unless you’ve been applying the points above you could be wasting a whole load of your time).
So how about Connor? Anyone that would like to offer their guidance and thoughts for Connor, then I’m sure that he would welcome your comments…because he is isn’t a fictional character! If you have an opportunity for Connor or can share his profile with potential graduate programmes, then I thank you for your thoughtful contribution. LinkedIn, meet Connor…
Keep going Connor – you’re going to be great!
One very proud Uncle
If like many organisations you’re considering the effectiveness of your performance review process and wish to build better leadership experiences that will yield more engaged employees, then we highly recommend EPIC Engagement as a great place to start. EPIC Engagement is a crucial diagnostic tool that allows employees to provide regular and targeted feedback to their line managers and encourages better dialogue between manager and employee. This tool helps managers in the business to recognise their employees as their ‘internal customers’, to welcome their feedback and to be more mindful of their need to be even better leaders…feedback CAN become a natural conversation.
If you would be interested in a discussion around EPIC Engagement or you would like to develop your people to become highly skilled practitioners of giving and receiving feedback, then please contact Emerge ator by calling +44 (0)1329 820580.