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DEFRIEFING - by TimBryce

The following is an excerpt from my new book, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.  The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives.  As a part of this, I found it necessary to discuss what it means to be the New Kid on the Block:


What you learned in school, of course, will be useful to you in your adult life, but more importantly, it means you possess the faculties to learn, that you can be taught; two important attributes employers are looking for. They are not so much interested in what you have learned in school as much as your ability to learn and adapt, which is what the diploma represents. Regardless of your degree, most employers are going to spend a period of time debriefing you and then teach you how to do things in the manner in which they want things done.  This is an important first step in acclimating into the corporate culture.  And just because you have graduated, don't think this is the end of your education. You will be learning lessons for the rest of your life. Our schools and universities do nothing more than train your mind to learn. That is their mission.

I had a friend who graduated from a trade school in Cincinnati as a machinist. He was very bright and graduated at the top of his class, making him an ideal candidate for a local tool and die company who hired him.  Although my friend knew a lot about being a machinist, the company first put him through their in-house school which taught him their approach to building machines.  He later confided that although he was at first skeptical of what he was going to learn, that he thought he was already suitably trained, he said what he learned from the company was light years ahead of what he learned in school.  The lesson here was twofold:  never be too cocky to think you know everything, and; there is always room for improvement.

Regardless of the type of company you are joining, getting debriefed is a natural part of entering the work force.  Do not be insulted and resist it, learn from it.  Keep one thing in mind, you are still an unknown quantity to the company and, as such, they want to point you in the right direction in starting your job. Further, you can expect quite a lot of supervision in the early stages of your employment as the company wants to be sure you are doing your job properly.

Debriefing can take many forms, a formal school like my friend experienced, classroom "hands-on" training, or simply on-the-job training.  Regardless, now is the time to pay attention to detail and take lots of notes.

Being the "Newbie"

Being the new kid on the block (aka "Newbie") has its advantages and disadvantages.  In terms of advantages, it's hard to blame the Newbie for things they are not expected to know yet.  This means you are allowed to make certain innocent mistakes for awhile, but don't make a habit of it.  You are also allowed to ask the naive "dumb question" which nobody else will ask.  In fact, the veterans are expecting you to make certain slip-ups for which you will naturally be kidded about.  Take this in stride and learn from it.  The disadvantages are that you will be given mundane tasks to perform initially, many of which can be called "Gofor" work, e.g., "Go for this, go for that."  The point is, as a Newbie, you are being tested to see not only how well you can perform, but how you react to certain situations.  You are going to be gauged in terms of your performance, patience, persistence, diplomacy, risk, teamwork, etc.  Most, if not all, of the veterans have gone through these same assignments and in order to gain their approval and trust, you must demonstrate your willingness to accept and execute such assignments.  You may rightfully believe some of your tasks are below your dignity.  Regardless, the best way to rise above this is to simply tackle any job they give you, do it well, do it fast, and do not gripe about it.  Ultimately, how you perform in the Newbie stage establishes you on the totem pole (your seniority).  It is also wise to remember this experience as it will have a bearing on how you relate to the next Newbie who comes along.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.

He can be contacted at:  timb001@phmainstreet.com

Copyright © 2008 Tim Bryce.  All rights reserved.

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