For more on hiring and developing Generation Z, read this recent article by Lauren Littlefield.
You may also be interested in this article from ADVISA’s President, Heather Haas.
Coming into the real, “adult” world after spending most of my life on the dirt of a softball field has been a little bit intimidating. Sure, I had some great internship opportunities through college that beefed up my resume, but most of my time was spent training, playing, and coaching softball. Lucky for me, I landed a great role here at ADVISA. And as each day passes, I am learning most of what I was doing on the field transfers to what I am now doing in the office.
Now, I could pretend to be an expert on leadership and babble on about the things I learned from leading within college athletics, but I’d rather start with the three things that stand out about the leadership in my own workplace. I value these three, simple things more than I could have ever imagined.
In college, your coaches, advisors, professors and sometimes parents, are constantly checking up on you and what you are doing. Yes, there is a level of independence, but as a college athlete that is representing Marian University, there was always someone watching over your shoulder. For someone like me, who values independence and freedom, that was something I had trouble accepting. I trusted the intentions of my professors, coaches, and teammates. But who trusted me in return?
As soon as I got to ADVISA, I was presented with an immense amount of opportunity. How could someone who barely knows me, trust me to complete all of this important work at a company standard, that I don’t really even understand yet? How could they give me this work and not come check up on what I am doing every minute of the day? No grades to check, no batting average to improve. There is a sense of pressure insisting that you can either get the job done and help the company grow or you cannot be trusted and you’re out. That’s the real world. And it starts with trust.
My leaders trust me, and I trust my leaders. I have learned to lean on them, ask questions when I am unsure, and take ownership of whatever task is at hand. They trust me to get the job done, and I trust they would never set me up to fail. ADVISA culture pushes each team member to be their very best, and that wouldn’t ring true without a strong level of trust in one another.
Respect is something I was taught at a very young age. I will respect my siblings, my parents, my coaches and teachers, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Not only did my parents instill this in me, but athletics in general teach you a very strong understanding of respect. I value a coach who respects me and what I do for the team. And, of course, I value teammates who respect me too.
In the workplace, respect is just as important, if not more so. My leaders have shown me respect since I walked through the door. Respect when giving constructive criticism, respect when dealing with things at home or outside of work, you name it. Not only do they respect me, but I respect the hell out of them. The background and experience that they have, the heart that they put into this company, and the strength to take on the bad with a positive outlook on things, it blows me away.
I don’t think many of my professors could tell me one thing about myself, other than maybe knowing I was a softball player and a good student. While they worked endlessly to ensure I was setting myself up for success post-graduation, I never had a chance to sit down and get to know them (and icebreakers during syllabus week do not count).
Connecting with people is very important to me. At ADVISA, not only do we connect with our clients to create lasting relationships, but we connect with each other. Going to lunch, grabbing coffee, creating assembly lines to stuff envelopes while debating who has better music taste, etc… I truly feel connected to my coworkers. Every month, I meet with leadership to check-in on what I am working on, how it’s going, and what’s going on in my life outside of work. The intentional conversations really make a difference. Feeling connected to my teammates makes it nearly impossible for me to allow myself to let them down in any way.
Trust, Respect, Connection.
I encourage all leaders of young professionals to think on their efforts within these three, simple areas. Putting forth the effort to trust, respect, and connect with your rookies can lead to a healthy, motivating start towards a successful career.