Blank Slate or Big Challenge? Managing New Professionals
In our field, we are in contact with candidates of all different experience levels on a daily basis. We see everything from seasoned professionals with 20 years of experience in their field, to recent grads with no work experience. There are differences and similarities in each group, and all experience levels are different to work with.
Managing professionals who may not “know the ropes” of the professional world yet may sound challenging. There are plenty of negative stereotypes surrounding the current pool of young people (we’ve all heard the Millenial commentary). But there are many advantages to hiring unseasoned or new professionals, even folks who have experience in the workforce but maybe are transitioning to a new field. As with any age group, there are different ways to manage and work with all different groups.
In her article, the ever-wise Jane Burnett discusses some of the best practices for managing newbies, and why this can be an advantage in addition to a new challenge. Unseasoned professionals are often a blank slate, at least to the new industry they’ve just been introduced to. In addition, they tend to have high energy, a lot of optimism, and can have a fresh perspective on things. Here are Burnett’s best tips for managing these types of employees:
- Expect lots of questions, and be open to them: We all need some guidance in a new environment, right? New professionals are no different. Understand that they won’t have all the answers, and that’s okay. How would they? If they’re a recent grad, they may have some internship or retail experience, but it’s a lot different than working in an office environment. Have patience (within reason) and be receptive to their questions and inquiries.
- Encourage critical thinking and foster their decision-making: Critical thinking is a huge plus of the current young professional pool. Most colleges try to implement as much critical thinking and problem solving into their curriculum as possible, and that will show through once they’re on the job. Allow them to figure some things out with this skill, and allow for (supervised) decision-making as well. The more confident they feel, the more comfortable they will be settling into their professional role.
- Be clear with expectations and goals: We all know that we can’t always be as specific as we’d like with benchmarks and priorities, but the clearer the better. New professionals want as much information as they can get, since they’re learning. Setting clear-cut expectations will help them learn to manage their time and prioritize, two critical parts of being a professional.
- Adopt their optimism and fresh perspective: Unseasoned professionals are a blank slate. Additionally, they tend to be excited and have an optimistic view on things. Take them as an example with this, and try to use it yourself. Optimism will help anyone get through their day, and will ultimately help your team manage their goals better.