Dilemma of the Young Mind

Today’s post is around Dilemma of the Young Mind and how they need someone to provide them direction. You cannot make a young mind do anything easily. What one can do is provide them direction, the ability to discern right from wrong and show how to make good judgments through one’s own examples.

I usually have the habit of advising young minds and the best way to get them to even listen to you is to get down to their level, speak their language and Engage rather than directing. Hence, I hang out with young kids/adults whenever I get the chance so I can understand the new #tags and swag words they use these days. Sometimes I feel ancient when I hang out with them however they love when you try to learn from them because most people are teaching them and not the other way around.

The inspiration to my article is the journey of a young colleague who got into a project at its inception. He is one of the most enthusiastic practitioners , technically good and a great communicator. He had hardly a few years of IT experience but felt he knows the world. I did not need to tell him to do something, before I can even ask he usually would volunteer. For e.g. When a new resource joins the project before I can ask someone to give an initial knowledge transfer he would offer to do the same.

Around two months ago, one fine Wednesday morning he gave me a shock by telling me that he was planning to put his papers and move on to another firm. My mind started spinning and I wondered why would he want to do that as things were going awesome in the project. No doubt it was the initial phase of the project hence the working hours were more than normal but the work was amazing and I could make out he was really enjoying the technical challenges in the project.

I told him I want to have a call with him and understand why he was thinking about moving out of the organization. When I spoke to him, I came to know that the other firm was offering him a huge hike, however it was support work and they had clearly said they would not give any development work. I checked with him whether he or his family are in a financial crunch and he confirmed not really. So, from the conversation I drew that the only thing attractive to him was the huge hike and he knew that the work would not be of his liking or challenging enough.

I tried to explain to him how such a decision would affect his resume in the future but young minds being young said to me “Let me try it for a year or so and if I don’t like it I can always switch”. I told him that is true but you are working in one of the best companies in the world which provides you so much opportunity to grow technically as well as personally. I said “I wish at your age I would have got into this company, I could have achieved so much more”. He did understand where I was going and said “It’s not that I have made a final decision yet, my mind is split 60% to go and 40% to stay”. So, I asked him to speak to another colleague if he finds the experience difference between us too much and would be more comfortable speaking to someone younger. By evening he had put his papers down in the system.

So now my mind started spinning how do I convince him and if I try too hard he will rebel (young ones)!!! Best part was I didn’t have to do much I just had to Let it Be. (Read my previous blog “And so I say “Let It Be”). Whenever he managed to accomplish a technical challenge he would himself call me and tell “This is resolved and I did it in this way. This is so awesome to work on!!!” and I would be “Then do you really have to go?”. This happened quite a few times over the two months of his notice period and my only response at the end of each time was “Then do you really have to go?”.

Twelve days were left to go for his last day and the project had started looking for his replacement because it didn’t look like he was going to change his mind and on 21st of February at around 10:30 pm he messaged and said “How do you make your decisions in life?” and I was so surprised by the question but I knew that was his way of reaching out to me so that I could provide a direction to him. I spent an hour on chat giving him scenarios (Read my blog #BeBoldForChange) for details.

The next day was a busy day for me as I was planning to go on leave for the next two days and around 8 pm he pings me “I need to talk to you”. I was getting late but I knew he really was in dilemma, so I thought let me take out some time and said “Sure, calling you”. I spoke to him and some of the key takeaways of the conversation were:

  • You have 32 years of career left to increase your salary and designation, these are formative years try to learn and absorb as much as possible, that will pay off in the long run
  • Dialogue from the movie 3 idiots – “Kabil banne ke liye padho, kamyabi toh jhak maarke piche aayegi”
  • Modified Dialogue from movie Ishq – “Life mein teen cheezon ke pichhe kabhi nahi bhagna chahiye: bus, train or naukri
  • I will give you directions and options but you will choose how you want to achieve it because people are more passionate when they make their own choices, carve their own path and take ownership of their career
  • And I ended with, I cannot offer you money but I can offer you mentorship

In the next 10 minutes, he sent me a chat I am revoking my resignation. He also sends an official email to me. Next day I get a system email confirmation.

So, as I end this blog I leave each one of you with the following advice to leaders of any organization, at any level and at any place:

  • Spend time with the younger generation, they need a lot of guidance and there is so much noise out there to confuse the young mind
  • Learn to speak their language, you may feel out of place/outdated and that’s ok keep at it and ask them to explain their latest acronyms (Refer http://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php, it’s a pretty good dictionary)
  • Start with a couple of folks around you, we do not need to boil the ocean
  • I cannot emphasize this enough Lead by example, share your story as we all sometimes need a push to show that it is practically possible and not just theoretical

Hope I have Inspired You! In turn please share your story in the comments section to Inspire Me and others who read my blog post!!!

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