Desi Industrial Psychologists

Young Professionals: Organisational Awareness and Building Resilience

Securing employment is an exciting milestone for a young person who is launching a new path to independence. While this may be the case, the change aspect of first-time entry into the workplace is often underestimated. Some critical learning experiences one encounters are not outlined in any textbook or formal resource document. For one reason or other people either thrive, crumble and/or disengage on entry into employment. Others initially persevere and endure the organisational environment with all its wonders, shockers and setbacks. Some people, over time, cannot withstand the recurring (and sometimes unceremonious) spikes, bumps and scrapes in the journey. This is part of the reason for high turnover in many firms.

Focused people learn quickly from challenging experiences of the workplace, which enable them to grow layers of resilience over time. However the manner of showing up and navigating in the workplace influences one’s success in this regard. Successful integration and growth in the workplace for a first-time entrant is enabled by 4 things:

  • Humility: Sincere intent to lower one’s sense of self-importance, conceit and/or vanity.
  • Self-Awareness: Focus on own actions, thoughts and emotions (including constant review and evaluation of same) as well as awareness of personal character traits, talents, skills and capabilities.
  • Hunger to Learn: Constant curiosity and keen interest to invite new and unfamiliar information, coupled with openness to be taught and enlightened by people, environmental circumstances and life experiences.
  • Positive Attitude: Capacity to identify benefit and/or favourable outcomes in every experience one encounters, that which carries you through moments of adversity in the journey.

New entrants into the world of work should be curious to learn the nature of business of the employer. Even more important should be an interest to understand the unspoken language of the people, be in tune with informal anecdotes, age-old and/or second-nature rituals and be in earshot of passage-talk about work-related stuff in people’s hearts and minds. Young new entrants must endeavour to accurately sense the general tone of superiors and leaders, and further identify other incumbents who wield influence and un-constituted power in the system. The pace of doing things must be gauged and one must do all things possible to keep up. New entrants must make it their business to be informed about any other insights that could enable their smooth transition in the workplace.

Equally critical in the journey is the willing spirit of a new entrant to build positive human connections in the workplace. This is not to be misconstrued to mean informal friendships necessarily, but rather an establishment of business relationships that can be mutually enriching. As a new and novice employee you wish to learn from others and be given space to contribute. Building capacity to tolerate ambiguity, manage pace of action in the game, quick recovery from setbacks, managing pressure in the system and dealing with changing perceptions of trust in people (which may come with disappointments) are highly essential. When unknowns are confirmed about what is expected and how, one is well positioned for a positive experience, in the main.

Crutches and resources gathered during the period of socialisation can assist a new entrant to cope and remain grounded. Therefore it helps for one to be proactive to plan and set goals as they enter a workplace environment for the very first time. In that way any challenge can be managed effectively, without the temptation to hide, crumble or adopt defensive retaliation.

Babalwa Desi
Consulting Industrial Psychologist


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top