Last week we began our three-part series on workplace readiness skills for teens and young adults. We’re writing this series because we share the concern being voiced by many employers and educators that our nation’s young people are not (generally speaking) well-equipped with the skills to succeed in today’s workforce.
As an organization committed to empowering the next generation, LifeSmart is honored to contribute our perspectives on this subject. Whether your role is educator, mentor, parent, or otherwise, we hope you’ll find these insights helpful in preparing the young adults in your life for success in the “real world.”
Today we’ll focus on four important personal leadership attributes: teamwork, diversity awareness, conflict resolution, and creativity/ resourcefulness.
With rare exceptions, most young adults will pursue careers where teamwork skills are critical. Today’s workplace is far more collaborative than in the past, and career success is greatly influenced by a person’s ability to work well with others. Here are the attitudes and actions of great team players:
- Giving everything their best. This means delivering excellent results for their assumed roles/tasks and relating well with the others. They set their bar even higher in a team context since others are counting on them.
- Encouraging and appreciating their teammates.
- Embracing feedback, rather than treating it defensively.
- Keeping their communications neutral or positive.
- Focusing foremost on the team and achieving its goals. “Team > me!”
As they find their way in the workplace, young adults will be working with people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, faiths, backgrounds, and worldviews. By making a concerted effort to appreciate others’ uniqueness and value, they will build synergy, trust, AND a better workplace environment. That means:
- Taking opportunities to get to know their colleagues both professionally and personally. How are their personalities wired? What are their interests? By better understanding their coworkers, everyone can relate more successfully.
- Always looking for the best in people even if they won’t make the “BFF” list (hint: most won’t!).
- Being respectful and tactful while building relationship capital.
- Being an inspiring team player and avoiding supercharged conversation topics (hint: be careful during election season!).
- Always remembering that no one can know the burdens each person is carrying.
It would be nice if everyone always got along, but the workplace offers special challenges. Some people position for advantage and power. Some won’t pull their weight. Some people prefer drama and gossip. Some lack integrity. And, sometimes personalities clash.
When conflict does arise in the workplace, here are some successful strategies to manage it:
- Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. Often, conflict arises from simple misunderstandings. Try not to prejudge or assign motives.
- Respecting themselves and their right to be heard.
- Striving for mutual understanding, sharing perspectives respectfully, and agreeing to disagree if their positions are irreconcilable.
Creativity and Resourcefulness
As I share in my “How to Be an MVP Employee” DVD, one of the keys for career advancement is building value in the eyes of an employer. That means not only delivering excellent job performance, but also contributing to the overall success of the organization. It means going above and beyond the job description with initiative and creativity to improve results.
“Workplace MVPs” build their value by:
- Improving revenues (increasing sales and customer loyalty)
- Reducing costs and improving organizational efficiency
- Innovating (developing new products, services, or procedures)
- Leading high impact projects that contribute to the success of the enterprise
Importantly, each of these soft skills applies to our personal lives as well, and it’s never too soon to start building them. How would the teens you know fare in these skill areas? Yourself? Stay tuned for Part Three next week!