The topics of “personal insecurities” and “personal offenses“ have come up a lot this month. The interns with whom we are working seem especially concerned with saying and doing the right thing, and are highly critical of themselves. We have been coaching them in humble confidence, encouraging them to keep moving forward, and not regard it as a failure when they are not hired by someone, but to instead look at it as a learning experience. As we go through life, we are often courageous in many ways, and yet struggle at times with a fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of inferiority.
At FLCC, we coach candidates (ranging from interns to the highly experienced), to focus on strengths and challenges, and to respond to others who behave differently from their expectations. We discuss with them how the people hiring them are not usually focusing on how long they have been in the industry, what they know on an individual topic, or the color of their hair (unless something is a distraction). The people looking to hire you are focused on what responsibilities will be assigned to you, and and whether you will fulfill those responsibilities with the structures and resources in place at the company.
In an ideal world, construction companies would be able to stop everything they are doing and get to know a candidate perfectly to determine if he is a good fit. They would do the same thing when onboarding and during the tenure of the career with them, and have people solely focused on you, your success and career aspirations. Yet, even if some companies were to have a concierge interview and onboarding experience in place, some people would think it overkill and others might expect that to carry through with everything, including the company doing their jobs for them. Just as families have different methods for launch the children into the world, companies do as well. Just as two children from the same family may have vastly different experiences, so can two employees at the same company.
Whether one is new to the industry or just new to the company, there are three common denominators to consider when interviewing and onboarding.
- The people with whom you are interacting have their main job to do that day with responsibilities, deadlines and commitments that may affect others doing their jobs. Some of their responsibilities might be to participate in interviews, train, welcome you, etc. Yet the responsibilities they have in the rest of their job does not go away. This will often interfere with “your perfect experience” if they have to interrupt time with you to take a call, send an email, answer a question, or leave you by yourself or with another employee for a period of time. Focus on the time you get with them, and be prepared to do your part to utilize it well. When you are focused on what you can do instead of what they did or didn’t do, your feelings won’t get so easily hurt when things don’t go perfectly.
- The people interviewing you are focused on filling the job opening and the work associated with that opening that needs to be done. If you are interviewing or training for a job, the focus of the other people you interact with is to make sure the responsibilities given to you will be fulfilled. If you commit to take that job, you commit to owning the responsibility of doing that job, which includes asking questions and taking action to properly understand the purpose, expectation, and delivery method required for each item assigned to you.
- If they are interviewing you, or if you have been hired, the company wants you to succeed. You are there because they chose you to be there, and because you chose to accept. If a co-worker that has told you they don’t want you there, then you always have the person who originally hired you to professionally discuss how you should handle the situation. If they did not directly tell you that they don’t want you at that interview or working at the company, then it again probably leads back to point number one. They have other responsibilities and they are trying to keep up while behaving appropriately and interacting with you. Instead of feeling like you are in the way or not being treated well, take the approach of observation, communication and self-development to determine how can you do something to move the process along for both of you. An example during interviews would be for you to bring your résumé, project list and references with you, and offer them to the people in the room when you arrive. By doing this, you show preparation, initiative, and helpfulness. Carry on the same mindset into training by forward-thinking and being respectful of the other person’s time while gaining their knowledge. You do this by first taking it as far as you can on your own and presenting the effort you put forth to the person, so they can guide you to the finish line and see your progress daily as you correct yourself. Don’t be overly sensitive to their behaviors, as it may not be their intent to make you feel uneasy. They may have had to interrupt one of their other responsibilities to assist you.
I used to tell my children when they were younger that anything new was going to be hard, but that I believed they could do it. They would always bring to my attention difficult people, and obstacles or things that they had to deal with, or how something was different than how it was when I was their age, etc. All of that was true and valid from their perspective, and yet it did not negate the fact for them to get from one grade level to the next or for them to advance in sports from one level to the next, I could help and guide them, but I could not do it for them. They had their job to do, and I had mine. Once their focus shifted from the roadblocks to the next milestone they could achieve, the opposing force behind the effort decreased, and the experience and result increased. We could all celebrate our achievements together and they grew into adulthood.
The same holds true in the workplace. You will succeed if you accept your part in the journey, even when difficult, with a focus on the goals before you. By thinking forward, you will gain career maturity which most always leads to eventual promotion.
To Your Career Maturity,