8 April 2014
How do you get the most from young talent, whether it’s a new starter coming into your organisation or an individual looking for help with a personal endeavour? It’s an interesting question, especially with the momentum apprenticeships have been gathering of late.
When it comes to bringing young talent into your business, I think it all starts with canvassing their opinion and figuring out the lay of the land. You’ve got to know what their backgrounds are, what they hope to achieve in their lives and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Then you can tweak your approach to maximise their potential, which is easier if you know what motivates them.
I also think belief plays a big part in all of this. There’s a sense that adults are reluctant to build up young people’s hopes for fear that they might get knocked down. If this starts in childhood then it’s going to have a knock on effect later down the line. We need to tell them that they can succeed. This is what Diane Modahl is doing with her young athletes and the results are there for all to see. Already, many of them are well on the road to Rio, with one young runner recently named best in the UK for her age category!
And whilst some people might view young people as somehow “not ready” to take on bigger kinds of responsibilities, I would argue that this isn’t always the case. In my experience, I’ve found that often when you give someone a responsibility that seems at the higher end of their capabilities, they will surprise you and step up to the plate. I’d use our commercial director Charlotte as a prime example here. She joined UKFast after university and was promoted to director of account management at 24. She’s never let up the pace and continually ups her game. To me, there’s no reason why – just because she was a younger member of the team – she couldn’t take on greater responsibilities.
Ultimately, when it comes to performance, people are invariably going to have dips occasionally. It’s just important to ask why. Why are they underperforming? Is it something at home or in their personal life that is causing a distraction? If you know what the problem is then you can help them to solve it. More often than not they will bounce back and if they don’t then simply find them another challenge within the company. If you feel like they have the right attitude then it is well worth finding out where they fit in and giving them the encouragement they need to thrive.