Leading Through A Better Understanding
Have you ever felt dismissed by someone? They don’t see the value of your services or products. Your attractiveness doesn’t measure up to their standards. Your candidacy is not the right fit in their mind. Even though you know not everyone is going to like you or understand you, it can be an awful feeling. At the least, it’s disappointing.
There’s a lot of shaming about young professionals. You can think it is coming from their Baby Boomer or Gen X bosses who have a lot more life and work experience. That would be the obvious choice. They are not the only ones, however. People born in the Millennial years undervalue themselves and their colleagues just as much as senior professionals.
A colleague of mine had asked me if there were any articles about this undervaluation concept in the media. I couldn’t find any. She asked me, “What have you experienced that other people are not seeing? You should be writing about this because your understanding is unique.” Unique or not, she pushed me to write this blog.
Where Does this Come From?
What I gathered from my past history in career coaching of young professionals and mentoring them in classes or while they’ve been executive search clients is, they underestimate themselves. Why? They haven’t had a chance to experience their worth.
One of reasons, they believe their skills are not special. For example, when you have a natural gift, unless someone informs you that you have a special talent (i.e.: analyzing details, coding) you live under the belief that “talent” is universal. Furthermore, if everyone around you seems to have the same mastery, it reinforces your beliefs. This belief may not change until you mix with people who differ from you and you see they don’t automatically have the same skill-set.
In the case study posted on my website, https://susangoldbergleadership.com/, one of the young professionals I interviewed was extremely well-spoken and poised. I could see from his resume and heard from his history, he excelled at sales; he inspired authenticity, trust and respect. In fact, his father had prospered from a sales background and passed down those skills to his son. What I learned in our conversation was he didn’t feel his speaking and sales skills were anything special because no one at the bank seemed to recognize them.
Popular education added to this viewpoint. Education during the Millennial’s teenage years was largely built upon memorization for test taking. Other abilities such as writing, problem solving, mastering abstract concepts and group collaboration were not emphasized as much as excelling at standardized tests. When you had those other skills beyond memorization, they may not have been as supported and reinforced by teachers, parents or other students.
At home was another force for confusion. “Helicopter parenting” was practiced by many folks during the Millennial years. Helicopter parenting is the overwhelming desire to protect kids from all potential perceived negative situations such as disappointment, failure, want. In the process of sheltering their offspring, parents rewrote their children’s papers, managed or second guessed their decision-making abilities, and fought their kids battles from nursery school through college. Essentially, they were micromanaging their children’s lives. During the later years, this eroded the young adult’s confidence to manage their lives themselves and believe in their own decision-making abilities.
How to Make a Meaningful Change
Now that you understand why this happened, how can you alter this misunderstanding? If you are a leader, the next time, you have a chance to recognize or reward a young professional who has earned your respect by hard-work and results, remember what it’s like to be dismissed or micromanaged, and do the opposite. Make a conscious effort to nurture and support your junior talent.
If you are a young professional, earn acknowledgement. Then, congratulate yourself and feel good for doing an awesome job. If you don’t receive recognition from your boss after you’ve given your all, and you may not, ask your boss how you are doing regardless. It’s worthwhile to gather information and feedback. Don’t wait until your annual or six-month review. Do it when you can best learn from your efforts so you can strive to meet expectations sooner rather than later.
If scheduling a one-time workshop is your answer to leadership training but your young talent is still showing signs of frustration, a workshop is not the answer. Developing emerging leadership is my life’s mission, and a gift that I’ve taken for granted (as my colleague above showed me). If you’d like to create a plan toward more satisfied team members and increased retention, let’s talk. Contact me at Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com