By Khalid Al Ameri (@KhalidAlAmeri)
There is something special about starting your first job, you are excited but nervous at the same time, and you do not know what to expect or whom you are going to meet. In fact, on average, all you really know about the company is through your own research online, the interview with the HR manager, and asking around town what it is like to work there.
Another common theme amongst newbies, myself included particularly when I first started, is that we all tend to paint a pretty picture of what it is like to work in a big company. Imagining where you see yourself in the not too distant future is common practice, big meetings, big office, big team reporting to you, and so on. Furthermore, with our leadership putting a great emphasis on developing high level of Emirati talents, fast, one cannot help but let the imagination flow. And if you will dream, might as well dream big.
Now turning those dreams into reality can be broken down into two important components, first being the corporate culture and second ‘You’, your attitude, your work ethics, and your hunger for knowledge. Now I believe the later is far more important, because if someone has the right attitude it is only a matter of time before things fall into place and you end up where you are meant to be.
Just last week I was asked by the HR team to give a personalized presentation to our new batch of Emirati joiners, I was to present to them on what they can expect when they finish up their training. Now to me, this was a daunting task, one cannot possibly speak for seventeen different directors and 500 plus employees on what it would be like to work with or for them. Anyone can talk about a company’s culture and its approach to business, but trying to describe how a certain employee’s experience will be, you are then getting pretty specific.
After a week of late night research, discussions with friends in different organizations, and plenty of caffeine; there seemed to be a consistent theme, which stood out amongst new Emirati executives. Their concerns boiled down to three things: lack of personal development plans, career paths, and on the job training.
So instead of presenting the corporate newbies and my future colleagues with what they could expect in their new roles, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to deliver a message on how to approach and get the best out of their day to day work.
Now, for the million-dollar question: how should a young Emirati entering the workforce approach his or her job in the corporate world? My answer, like an ‘All You Can Eat Buffet’.
Now that we have gotten the weird looks and chuckles out of the way, bear with me for a minute and think about it. If you have been to an all you can eat buffet, you will notice that when you walk into the restaurant, you are shown your table, given a plate, and pointed in the direction of the mouth watering buffet. You can grab as much food as you want as many times as you want, as long as you do it yourself, because nobody is going to serve you.
In my opinion, going to an all you can eat buffet is pretty much the same as a day on the job for a fresh graduate, you are shown your desk, given a laptop and pointed in the direction of your managers. Now this is where the confusion happens, a lot of fresh graduates will sit at their desks for days on end with the belief that it is the manager’s full time job to train them, an a-la-carte service if you will, which sorry to say, is not the case. Managers have responsibilities & deliverables of their own, they should certainly be there for you every time you get up to ask a question or learn about a specific task, but they are definitely not there to serve you, are you starting to see the connection?
Taking the theme of TEDxAjman 2011, we need to see a MindShift in young Emiratis’ entering the work force; they need to pave their own futures and development plans regardless of whether or not there is a specific career development program in their organization.
In any organization, there is a wealth of expertise available at your fingertips, or a few feet down the corridor, use it. Develop a work plan, ask for specific tasks that interest you, and discuss issues relevant to the business with your direct and indirect managers. This is how you build experience, by getting up of your desk and seeking development rather than waiting for it be served to you on a silver platter.
Human resources expert Susan Heathfield wrote in one of her articles “You own your career path plan. No one will ever care as much as you do” and that is the critical message to the next generation of young executives. The responsibility to become a leader rests for the most part with you, so get up and knock on your managers’ door for a challenging task, and don’t be afraid to get up for seconds.