I’m not sure how it happened, but I turned into a grown-up. When did that happen? I landed a “real” job, got an apartment with my boyfriend, and got a dog, Barlow (six months old and already 60 pounds).
I’ll admit, it’s a strange realization. Mostly because being a grown-up is a little overwhelming. There’s no more safety net. At least, not like there used to be with the structure of school, a dorm to live in, financial dependence on Mom and Dad, and all my friends centered around one campus. Now my support system resides on my shoulders. More than ever before, I am responsible for every aspect of my life—where I live, who I keep in touch with, training Barlow, how my professional journey pans out, the list goes on and on. There’s no one to point the finger at when life hands me lemons. I’m not forced to do anything by anyone, and if I give into everything society tells me I should be doing (which isn’t always a bad thing), that’s my own fault.
Similarly, I’ve entered into a role loaded with responsibility here at Clarity Group. Unlike many of my Millennial counterparts I am exposed to the entire gamut of activity within the realm of a boutique consulting firm. I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients, take part in developing our products/services, take the reins on our marketing plan, and be a legitimate contributor to what Clarity Group is and how we are growing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I can’t deny–it’s a lot to put on a girl’s plate.
As I budget my personal finances in a spreadsheet at home, there’s a simple yes or no to what I can do/not do. Professionally, I’m learning how to budget my time for a multitude of goals and well, I can’t just not do something. But when I don’t know how to tackle a new project or what the potential implications of a certain course of action will lead to, there’s a team of people ready to teach me and help me succeed.
The team treats me as the grown-up that I’m in the process of becoming. In order to own my own success, I have to manage all my responsibilities and execute with excellence. And every opportunity for success is balanced by the potential for failure. It’s a two-sided coin. Yes, the bar is high and the pressure’s on, but it’s not unreasonable. Setting high standards gives me the space to take on, contribute to, develop and weigh in on the work we do and how it evolves.
When organizations treat their staff like the grown-ups they can grow into, rather than the grown-ups that they are, and set expectations greater than what individuals think they are ready for, a higher standard is set. Wouldn’t we make our organizational cultures better by raising the bar of what is deemed average instead of regarding “superstar” players as outliers? When we strive to achieve more, individually and collectively, we make a greater impact on the organizations and communities we partner with.
So what do we do to keep growing into grown-up-hood?
From an individual standpoint…
- Take work seriously. Your attitude towards your work is reflected in your performance. You are apt to be given more responsibility, and recognition, when others trust you.
- Ask questions. People don’t know if you’re struggling unless you speak up. Be an earnest student. It’s O.K. not to know everything–what’s important is that you’re willing to learn.
- Take initiative. Ask to observe meetings or provide assistance with a project you’re interested in. Still not sure where to start? Keep asking the questions, “How can this be made better?” and “How can I be/do better?”
From an organizational level…
- Trust your staff. Isn’t trust the foundation for any solid, healthy relationship? Relationships, even the one between an individual and an organization, are supposed to make both sides better. So if you want your organization to be better, give staff opportunities to better themselves with your guidance and support.
- Set the bar high. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re made of until we’re put to the test. Stretch staff in ways they may not have considered before. The discovery of new possibilities and skills can ignite contagious passion and energy.
- Communicate their value. It can be difficult for staff to connect their work to the big picture when their work can be so removed from it–remind them how and why they matter.
Share your thoughts! How does your organization help you grow? How do you manage your responsibilities?