Friday, October 10, 2014

How Experienced Professionals Can Support Early Career Professionals

This is an important topic to me for personal reasons. As with all topics that are close to my heart, I like to talk about them in detail. Especially when I notice something is wrong and needs to be addressed and corrected. This topic is how experienced professionals can better support early career professionals or newbies as I call them here on the blog.

Recent input from some experienced professionals when responding to a mere personal observation of mine really got me thinking. Sometimes these old pros are far removed from their days of just starting out, not just age wise but also emotionally. As such, they find it hard to empathize or sympathize when they are giving input or even unsolicited advice to newbies in their field or other fields. This point couldn't be more painfully clear, given some of the things that I've been told by professionals during my career journey thus far. Honestly, it's been hard to tell if they are in fact well-meaning or just have chips on their shoulders.

With that said, here are 5 ways that experienced pros miss the mark in offering advice to newbies:

1. They think that just because they accomplished a certain result or achievement you should be able to do it too. IF you just follow their advice.

Sorry, things don't work like that. Each person has their own unique path in their career and their strengths and abilities are different from the one giving the "advice."

2. They take a self-righteous, sanctimonious tone, saying "Well I did this, that and the other."

But they don't just merely state the facts. They gloat, they can get huffy or they may even throw in judgmental, criticism at you when they don't even know you personally. The latter is what I find most bizarre. I've had this specific experience when I went in for free business counceling at a non-profit.

I did come away from the experience with more clarity and advice to focus on one narrow specialty area, which was beneficial. I just couldn't help but feel really torn down and for what? Business counceling, just like any other counceling should be designed and delivered to building you up and empower you. Not lay you low.

3. They think research is the cure-all to stop what they deem as dumb questions from happening.

One experienced professional told me that they don't help people unless they have proven to have done their research before asking them anything. Because they don't have time to help everyone. Ok, fair enough.....NOBODY HAS ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD! But I feel that that way of thinking is one-track minded.

Usually helping someone doesn't involve actually doing much more than having conversations--surprise, surprise! Unless, of course you're presenting an audio visual tutorial to someone on a difficult subject, now that's truly helping and making a huge effort.

4. They think you're not confident in yourself if you ask a lot of questions and have any apprehension whatsoever.

An experienced professional pointed out that she thought I wasn't confident because I kept mentioning that I was new in the industry. Also, I basically asking what's normal within the industry. I was really taken aback by her ridiculous assumption that I wasn't confident. Not knowing how to do things and being honest about it or not knowing how to gain access to industry resources isn't the same as lacking confidence.

I believe it's smart AND perfectly alright to ask someone with more knowledge than you if you don't know something. And no Google doesn't have all the answers I need either, I checked! LOL.

But I digress, I'm guessing that the woman is the type that barges up into a place with guns a blazin' and thinks others should do the same. However, that's not what I do, I'm smarter and more strategic than that.

5. They think you should fake it till you make it.

This principle may work in other areas of your life but not really in your career. If you lack knowledge, but pretend like you do and get really lost or frustrated on the job, people will notice that. So just humble yourself, embrace your newbie status and become a knowledge sponge instead. Go to every optional training opportunity provided by your company.

Also, take advantage of every outside resource and learning opportunity you can get to. You will be glad you did because the more specific and targeted knowledge you have the better.

Here are 5 ways they can remedy their mistakes with newbies:

1. They must realize that new professionals don't always know things they should know when they should know it. That's natural and should be a given. If they did, they wouldn't be a beginner!

2. They should LEARN to exercise patience and understanding when asked for basic advice or how to do things by newbies.

3. Not everyone does things the way the old pros might do them because everyone is different in how they get the job done. That's OK!

4. New people to the field just might have some fresh perspectives and insights that old pros can learn from.

5. Newbies don't always know what resources are available to them at the beginning stages of their career. Not even if they research their brains out!

Let me note that this post is solely my commentary about my bad experiences with experienced pros. But don't get me wrong, I've had so many positive experiences with AMAZING old pros. I feel blessed and very grategul to have received their support and encouragement over the years. But this post is simply a "teachable moment" I'd like to provide for experienced pros who's come on strong with unfounded criticism or unsolicited advice.

Some I'm sure are not even aware of what they are doing or how their input can impact newbies. They also have the power to make great positive impacts on us if they could understand from our perspective of what's generally helpful to us and what's not. This is also for newbies. I wanted to explain and decode some of the behavior that they may encounter so they're not totally blindsided.

So, tell me what you think and if you've experienced similar input from experienced professionals in your career.

Thanks for reading, take care.

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