Blog Post

5 Lessons to Teach Recent Grads to Set Them up for Success

Suzanne Lucas

Founder, Evil HR Lady

With college graduation season behind us, chances are you've probably just hired a few recent graduates. Eager to enter the workforce and ready to learn, this new wave of workers may have the brains to do the job, but they'll still need some time to adjust to being in the working world.

Here are five lessons you'll want to teach them to set them up for success, starting on day one:

1) Deadlines Are Real

In school, the only real deadline was the end of the semester. Otherwise, the professor chose the deadline to accommodate her schedule and to maintain the pace of the class. The professor picked Tuesday at 5:00 pm as the due date for that pesky paper, but she wasn't going to get around to grading it until Thursday anyway, so often, students could get some flexibility.

You'll need to make it clear that, in the business world, other people are waiting for your work and it's important that you get it in on time. Projects can't go forward if parts are missing, and clients get angry when deadlines aren't met. Encourage your new hires to talk to their boss as soon as they think they might not hit a deadline and ask for help.

2) Flexibility Doesn't Mean What It Did in College

As college students, your new hires were probably able to schedule their classes around their social life, but now they need to schedule their social life around their jobs. To set expectations effectively, you need to clarify what your company wants when it promises flexibility.

Make it clear that employees still have to put in eight hours once they turn their computers on, even if they have flexible start and end times. Explain that working from home means working all the time—not ducking out for coffee with friends. Meetings, especially for entry level roles, are mandatory, and not something that can be skipped.

3) No One Is Assigned to Care

Colleges provide students with academic counselors, mental health counselors and advisors of all kind. But, in the workplace, there aren't people throughout the organization who are assigned to offer these services. Yes, most bosses, HR managers and coworkers are kind people who will care about new employees and help however they can, but there's no guidance counselor.

Tell your new hires that if they want a mentor, they'll need to take the lead on finding one. Direct them to any career growth or learning resources that your company has made available, and urge them to use these tools regularly. As for personal crises, most companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs). Make sure all hires know how to use this program when necessary.

4) At Work, Group Projects Are Awesome

No one likes group projects in school—there are always slackers who know that someone will do the whole thing for them because they don't want to get a failing grade. But, in the business world, there are project managers that prioritize the team's success, delegate work and support their colleagues. Plus, slackers get weeded out pretty quickly at the corporate level.

Show your new hires that teamwork can be a great way to contribute to the success of the organization in their early days of employment, get to know other workers and find their strengths. Put them on a team project as soon as they start to help them assimilate into the organization and its culture.

5) Managers Want Workers to Succeed—For the Company's Sake

While your new hires were in college, there were people who were paid to help them succeed. In the working world, their managers and colleagues also want them to thrive, but mostly because they want the business to thrive. This is perhaps the toughest lesson for recent grads to learn: their personal success will be irrelevant to most of their coworkers and bosses. In fact, they may even come across competitive colleagues who will try to sabotage them.

Unlike at school, everyone can't get an A—only a select few people get the promotion or the bonus. Remind them: success in business means helping the company succeed, and with that, personal success will follow. Urge them not to get bogged down by little victories or failures. Instead, they should get used to receiving all kinds of feedback, holding their heads high and working hard.

The daily grind can take a while to adjust to, so try to stay positive about your new hires. Remember, we all started somewhere, so do your best to guide them until they figure out how to make their mark.

Photo: Creative Commons

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