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5 Misconceptions New Grads Have About the Workforce

5 Misconceptions New Grads Have About the Workforce

For the majority of college graduates, the next step after marching across the stage is entering Corporate America. During college, we develop an idea of what we think the workforce will be like. During finals week, we dream about what it must be like to not have exams, homework, and research papers to complete. And, as we check our bank accounts, we no doubt wonder what it will be like to have a consistent paycheck coming in.

Life will indeed change in a big way once a graduate makes the transition from classroom to cubicle. But often, new graduates have misconceptions about exactly how things will change for them. Below, I share 5 of the most common workplace misconceptions new grads tend to have. Which of these applies to you?

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1. I have a great GPA, so finding a job will be no problem.

Your GPA is only one factor employers will be looking for when considering you for a position. With so many experienced professionals looking for the same jobs new grads are applying for, it is going to take more than good grades to impress perspective employers. Grades are important, but make sure you bring plenty of experience to the table as well. Although you may not have much full-time work experience as a new graduate, make sure your resume shows you have taken part in activities that demonstrate your strength in teamwork, project planning, and time management. These qualities will serve you well in your first job.

2. I will no longer need to live like a poor college student.

One of the best things about landing your first job is earning a consistent paycheck. For many new grads, they will be making more money than they have made at any other point in their lives once they land that first job. While this stability may afford you a few luxuries that were out of reach during the college years, proper budgeting and money management are necessary to set you up for a secure financial future. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, but do this only after bills and debt payments are taken care of each month.

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3. My coworkers will be excited to have a new energetic team member on board.

While your coworkers may welcome you with open arms, remember that you are entering a dynamic that you are unfamiliar with. As you seek to add value and learn more about your role, be mindful of the norms already at play in your workplace. Learn who your advocates are. Learn which individuals to steer clear of. Unfortunately, you may run into some colleagues who, for some reason, are threatened by change and therefore will not accept you right away. Do not be surprised; simply do a good job and work on building relationships with those who are willing to reciprocate.

4. If I work hard, I will advance quickly.

In college, hard work yields somewhat immediate gratification. You study hard, you are rewarded with an A on your test. If you pursue an office in a club, there’s a vote, and you find out whether you won or lost. You spend hours writing a research paper, and within a few weeks, you find out that you scored a passing grade.

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In the workforce, feedback is not always so swift. Sometimes, you will work on projects that you feel demonstrate the best work you are capable of only to receive little if any accolades from your boss. There will be moments where you are expected to go above and beyond on a project, only to do it again next week with seemingly little reward. When you work as part of a team, you will be expected to bring your best each week, not because there’s a reward in it for you, but because that’s everyone’s job. Although your coworkers may not pat you on the back for every effort you make, it is not going unnoticed. Consistency is rewarded in the workplace. Do your best on everything you put your hand to, even if it seems like no one is watching.

5. I’ve got my degree(s), so I am done with the classroom.

Today, continuing education and lifelong learning are the keys to success in the workplace. You may be done with your full-time studies, but there will certainly be many opportunities for you to return to the classroom during your working years. Many young professionals choose to attend night classes to obtain a graduate degree that will help them advance in their professional lives. But even if you have already obtained all the degrees you need, you may want to earn a professional certification such as Project Management Professional (PMP) or another certification specific to your industry. In order to obtain these valuable designations, employees often attend classroom trainings or “bootcamps” in addition to studying many hours on their own.

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The classroom is a great place to learn practical skills, network with professional peers, and gain deeper knowledge of your job function. Do not shy away from the classroom after graduation. Always be searching for opportunities to further your education, whether it’s in pursuance of a degree or some other type of education.

Featured photo credit: Konstantin Chagin via media.lifehack.org

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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