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You’ve got the job. You’ve arrived at your new workplace. You’ve toured the coffees and teas in the kitchen. You’ve shaken hands with your colleagues.

Fast forward a few months, or perhaps even a year or so… and there are question marks in your head.

Question marks concerning YOUR performance.

You’re doing what the job description asked for in the original posting. You’ve got the relevant academic background. You’re at your desk on time and deliver on your deadlines…

And yet, you get the distinct feeling that you’re still… not quite living up to expectations…

Which also means you’re probably not getting the kind of professional attention to be entrusted with greater responsibility, promotion and professional advancement.

Sound familiar?

Actually, it’s only TOO familiar, given the stories I hear from the young professionals I mentor. And yet they can’t seem to figure out what they’re doing wrong.

My feedback for them is that it’s often what they’re not doing that might be holding them back.

Of course, there are many employability traits and soft skills that can make you shine in your career, and I explore them in other articles on this blog.

But in this post, I’d like to mention the three traits that most often come up, whenever I talk candidly with Human Resource officers about skills gaps in their hires.

  1. Resilience

This translates to the ability to remain focused and productive in times of adversity, to keep going in the face of obstacles and challenges and to display adaptability during unfamiliar or unforeseen circumstances.

Which is a fancy way of saying: being tough-minded.

Now, I’m not implying today’s young professionals don’t have the CAPACITY for resilience. Many DO in fact, express tough-mindedness and adaptability in times of challenge in the workplace.

But unfortunately, as hungry to find meaning, grow and develop at their jobs as Millennial hires may be… and as quick to learn and implement new technologies as Gen Z recruits are… both generational cohorts can struggle when they are professionally tested and placed under pressure, and when their managers and coworkers are unavailable to provide guidance or support.

Yet resilience is precisely the skill they would need to express at such times, and precisely the attribute that would draw a manager’s or HR officer’s appreciation and attention.

  • 2. Problem Solving

You would think problem-solving is in our nature. A basic part of the blueprint of being creative, thinking beings… and it is!

After all, the ability to provide innovative solutions to problems is one of the reasons Millennials are so entrepreneurial… at least when it comes to brainstorming and collaborating among themselves.

But place them in a traditional workplace, with top-down power structures… and it seems that natural, innovative problem-solving impulse often shuts down.

Which means there has to be a compromise.

Millennials and Gen Z employees need to remember that traditional organisational structures are not going to fade away overnight, and that they need to find the self-motivation to express their innate problem-solving powers irrespective of their environment.

On the other hand – and as I tell senior management and HR officers at every EVOLUTION corporate training I deliver… they have to be willing to LISTEN to the solutions that their younger team members propose, while empowering them to act on their most promising suggestions!

Either way, the greater the problem-solving capacity that a young professional demonstrates in the workplace, the greater their chances of being selected for career advancement.

  • 3. Self Motivation

And then there’s self-motivation. Human Resources, management and senior executives all seem to be united on this front: new hires need more of it! It’s also referred to as ‘taking initiative’.

Again… there are a number of things to say about this.

It’s definitely NOT that my Millennial and Gen Z mentees are lacking in passion, or ideas for how to change the world, or to up-level their own high performance.

And yet… their willingness to take initiative and be self-motivated in the workplace often gets road-blocked.

Why?

Part of the reason comes from not having the same support and mentoring system that was familiar and available while they were still at school, thanks to the undivided attention and guidance they were used to receiving from parents, teachers and friends.

And part of it is the fact that their suggestions and ideas are often not taken seriously in more conservative job sectors and traditionally-minded industries.

Once again, young professionals would still give themselves a massive career advantage by developing, expressing and continuously raising the bar on personal self-motivation at EVERY stage of their career, and developing the resilience (see above) to keep going and giving their best – even at times when the support and guidance they crave is not forthcoming.

To take a fitness analogy… if you don’t keep flexing your self-motivation muscle, you can’t rely on its strength when times get chaotic and more is expected from you than you had anticipated.

But on the other hand, if senior management has no intention of allowing Millennial and Gen Z hires to act on their initiative and self-motivation, and never creates opportunities (and rewards) for their young talent to exercise their self-motivation, they will either continue to see roadblocks on this front… or, eventually, their employees will take their obstructed self-motivation to a different workplace.

In our professional, as well as our personal life, it always pays to grow our resilience, problem-solving and self-motivation abilities… But such traits express themselves best when all stakeholders commit to empowering their expression!

To work with me one-on-one to take your professional and personal performance to new levels, please check out the LIMITLESS track of my services at: https://www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/limitless/

Remember your early twenties? I remember mine.

With a university degree under my belt and inspired by the relationships I had cultivated with both fellow students and professors, I was full of passion (still am), optimism and self-belief, and gripped by the absolute conviction that focus, discipline and clear goals were all I needed for success.

Today, hand on my heart, I still believe in those principles as crucial to professional and personal growth and achievement…

However, like all of us as we acquire real-life observations and experiences, I’ve evolved my views over time. Especially when it comes to getting young people ready for the 21st century workplace.

These days, the words on everyone’s lips are ‘disruption’, ‘automation’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, as well as ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

In other words, a tsunami of relentless, escalating and no-guarantees change on every level – from technological to financial to professional.

Here are a few more words: ‘unemployment’ and ‘Generation Z’.

Gen Z are the newest cohort to be showing up at hiring interviews, following on the heels of the famously entrepreneurial ‘Millennials’ or Gen Y, having been born after 1995.

More risk-averse, conservative and privacy-loving than Millennials, Gen Z have never known a pre-internet world, and they are the true digital natives.

However… my takeaways in mentoring these young people, either during the FEARLESS self-development workshops I lead, or the one-on-one mentoring I undertake throughout the year, is that most Gen Z teens are still VERY under-prepared for the skills expected in today’s workplace.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, the top five HARD skills that companies need most in 2019 are:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. People management
  5. UX design

What about 2019’s top five most-desirable soft skills? LinkedIn tells us they are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Time management

But I think that beyond hard and soft skills… there are timeless LIFE skills which new Gen Z workforce members need to know and implement, in order to become a truly FEARLESS generation.

And these are:

  1. Cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, or think about multiple concepts simultaneously)
  2. Problem solving (finding solutions to difficult or complex issues)
  3. Critical thinking (competently analysing facts to form judgments)
  4. Goal-setting and execution (the development of an action plan to motivate individuals or groups to materialise a target or achieve a pre-determined milestone)
  5. Resilience (the ability to cope with a crisis or failure, or minimise the impact of stressors or pressure)

These are the game-changer skills that people of all ages would do well to learn… and they are PARTICULARLY crucial to Gen Z, who, unlike previous generations, will have managed their home, school and social lives almost exclusively via smartphones and apps, without having had the independent opportunity to cultivate and practise the life skills listed above.

They say time waits for no man (or woman), and that is especially true today, with exponential disruption occurring across almost every industry and profession.

And for every generation still represented in the workplace – and most particularly for Gen Z hires – displaying cognitive flexibility, problem solving, critical thinking, goal-setting and resilience – are only going to grow in desirability in the years ahead.

Which is why, helping young people acquire these skills, so they become as natural as brushing teeth or riding a bike, is ultimately part of my personal mission in helping create (and grow!) a truly FEARLESS generation.

For one-on-one mentoring to transform your teen’s communication, leadership, self-management and long-term employability potential, please check out the FEARLESS track of my services by clicking here.