After investing a large amount of time and money into getting an education, many new graduates getting their feet wet in the workplace this summer may not want to hear this. But the truth is, many leadership skills are not – and cannot be – taught in schools. Many leadership skills are learned through hands-on workplace experience and are relayed through mentors and managers like you.
Leadership Skills for Entry Level Employees
1. Emphasize Collaboration
The organizational structure of schools, colleges, and universities is fairly different from the organization of many businesses. The stricter hierarchy of the educational system can unintentionally train students in such a way that discourages interaction and collaboration between colleagues at different levels. Such a lack of intermingling ideas can be problematic for new graduates trying to get ahead in the workplace. Indeed, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “While some hierarchy may be needed, leaders who learn to lean too hard on formal authority often find themselves and their organizations frustrated, stunted, and stagnant.” What does this mean for managers like you? Be certain to initiate your new recruits into a culture of hands-on collaboration from the beginning of their tenure at your company.
2. Encourage Mistakes
In school, there is often a right answer and a wrong answer. That reliance on black and white is not really transferrable to life. Indeed, “Real world problems are complex. They evolve. They’re organizational and analytical. And success is often driven as much (or more) by successful and rapid implementation as by developing the ‘correct’ approach. Understanding that there’s rarely one right answer can make a person more adaptive, agile, and open to the thoughts of their peers. But that understanding is rarely cultivated through textbooks and multiple choice tests.”
Basically, new graduates need to shift their paradigm to think in shades of grey. As a manager, encourage your employees to get their hands dirty, practice trial and error, and learn from their mistakes. They are likely to gain more success and stronger leadership skills from such flexibility of thinking than from a rigid insistence on answers that are purely right or wrong.
3. Invest in Understanding
If all else fails, consider investing in an online personality test for your new recruits who are bright and well-educated but lack practical experience and leadership skills. Use an online personality test to help each individual employee identify their own strengths and weaknesses and areas they most need to work on in order to succeed in your company.