A Note to New Grads (Part Two)

In the first part of this post, I wrote about a survey of 700+ executive woman which found that only 26% felt new grads were prepared for the demands of the workforce today.

Upon further inspection, here are the skills respondents felt were most lacking:

Communication skills – 30%

Critical thinking and problem solving – 27%

Taking initiative – 25%

Follow-through – 18%

Since I hear about the first two from managers a lot these days, here’s my weigh-in on the root causes.

Problem #1: Communication Skills 

Since some studies show that up to 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, the ability to “read” others and get a sense of what’s going on behind their words is critically important. That said, the fact that we use technology to communicate – like – everything  is resulting in a slow erosion of this critical skill. Here’s something truly scary: Neurologists are discovering that the younger the study participant – the less likely they are to recognize common facial cues. Maybe this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you given the epic interpersonal fails we’ve all heard about or experienced first hand. Still, if you work with someone (or lots of someones) who just don’t seem to “get it” – it could be because they do the majority of their communicating online. (Oh, and perhaps it’s also because we can’t escape reality TV that showcases the worst of how to communicate, but that’s another post.)

Problem #2: Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills 

There’s no doubt “Growing up Google” has been extraordinary. Whereas previous employees were forced to hunt through outdated manuals, pound the stairs at the library, and—OMG— stand in line and wait, we now have answers to any question you can imagine delivered piping hot in less than a second. Believe me, I’m not romanticizing the “way it was before.” I don’t want to go back there either. But the truth is we’ve become addicted to immediacy and this has not only impacted our ability to generate new ideas (Why bother if someone out there has already thought of it, right?) but it has also meant we expect every question in business to have a black and white answer. Ha – if only!

Are you experiencing these issues in your office? If so, please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear it and, specifically, how you handled the situation.

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