Recently graduated, celebrations completed? Now what?
I was having lunch with a coaching client of mine the other day and this topic was raised. She works for an educational institution specialising in Business Education courses and this question has kept her awake at night.
If a company paid for the course then I presume that the graduate will be expected to operate at a higher level than before making the company’s investment worthwhile. Who supports them to turn learning into practice?
If the individual invested in their own education and perhaps they have a business then they leave with some valuable tools and techniques to apply to their business growth strategies.
Who supports them to turn learning into practical strategies and operational processes? Is there a hole in post-business school support?
A great leadership coach I know said the following:
“Whilst there is general acceptance that the academic process takes years to complete, there is a misconception that the graduate can immediately turn that learning into profitable action”
There is this expectation I know from my days in the banking world where we recruited the brightest graduates to our Accelerated Development programmes but they did not know the first thing about how to show up each day, navigate the corporate world and deliver results. Very few had a personal development plan beyond their academic plans.
Here are 4 ways to transition learning into focussed action.
1) Understand what is expected of you at work
I mean really read your job profile/description/scorecard.
If it doesn’t make sense, ask your line manager for clear explanations. Are these things in your control or not? Waiting for the annual performance review is not a good idea.
Also check what general rules apply in your workplace. There could be safety protocols or policies against protecting data or what you are allowed to do on your laptop. Avoid the risks by getting this information up front.
2) Review your academic learning materials
You just graduated and might have put all your books and notes away. Look at them again and check which may be useful as references for your daily tasks or projects. Try and integrate the learning into your role.
For example when I completed my BCom degree one of the books was on Commercial Law and in banking we were dealing with many contracts and financial institution rules. I referred to it often and highlighted many pages for quick reference. It saved a lot of time and demonstrated my application of learning to real business problems.
“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”― Dale Carnegie
3) Ask lots of questions
I often talk about what mentoring is and is not. Being a mentee is about asking questions. The more you ask the more you will learn. You can ask your manager, your colleagues, your family on how to handle conflict, deal with workload pressures, soothe an angry client, negotiate a promotion and more. Just Ask!
4) Find a Mentor/Coach
If your company offers this support, take advantage of it. If not look externally for somebody you can really trust to have your interests at heart. Somebody who will listen to your challenges, suggest alternative approaches to solve them, help you to set goals and check in on your progress regularly.
For a conversation on this topic you are welcome to #JustAskLinda
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