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graduate development

My first week with Interaction!

On Tuesday this week I joined the Interaction team with the ‘Collaborating in Teams’ module of a prestigious Graduate Development Programme. Over three days, through a mix of carefully crafted experiential activity and guided reflection, we explored ideas including behavioural flexibility, ‘virtual’ teams, and the factors influencing team effectiveness in modern business. We have guided delegates through a strengths-based approach, and looked at some practical ideas around recognizing team dynamics and collaborating successfully as a graduate in today’s workplace.

Take opportunities and get familiar with the numbers

The cohort were lucky enough to be addressed by the CFO during a ‘formal’ dinner night. He encouraged them to take opportunities and to quickly ‘get familiar with the numbers’. At the end of a busy but thoroughly enjoyable few days the delegates spent some quality time committing to some pragmatic actions, with ongoing support in place from colleagues and business mentors.

Where I have seen this type of work failing to have the impact it should is when the learning is not delivered experientially so that learners only conceptually understand the issues at hand but can’t translate that into practice. There is also danger when someone develops a clearer understanding of their interpersonal impact but fails to recognise it as a preference rather than a rigid (often defensive) definition. By really challenging learners this week to stretch themselves in very specific ways, often to an uncomfortable degree but with appropriate support in place, we saw some genuinely transformational results, and had a great time in the process.

So that’s my first week done. I wonder what week 2 will bring…

What do you stand for?

We ran a session last week onpersonal brand’ as part of a graduate development module and it was fascinating how people engaged with it and worked hard to capture the many elements that make them who they are – and what they feel is important for others to recognise about them. In other words, the reputation that they would like to have at work.

It struck me how important the concept of ‘the shadow you cast’ is and how it’s something that doesn’t have a defined start and finish time. Perhaps at the start of your career it’s important to give this some thought as working within a team and organisation becomes a day-to-day reality. However, in many ways, in order to land a job in such competitive times, people have already given some thought to their personal qualities and what makes them stand out. The challenge then is to make this a reality and live up to your employer’s expectations – and this is when the timing of a session like this with graduates combined with good levels of business feedback will help take this thinking to the next level.

However, the interesting thing about ‘personal brand’ is that as people get more experienced within an organisation, it’s something that often gets overlooked. For me it still merits the same level of scrutiny and focus – even with more senior leaders. The old adage that ‘it’s not just what you know but how you do it’ is one that holds true for all of our careers, yet sometimes it still needs a timely development session to remind us that this is ongoing work that requires ongoing focus. So when we run similar sessions with senior leaders, they often say how refreshing it is to have time to give this proper thought – and almost always they identify an area that merits further attention and focus.

For me the moral is we never stop learning about who we are and how we come across. What’s important is that we retain an active curiosity in how important this is to our effectiveness at work.

Bright graduates = Bright future

A busy week saw 62 National Grid graduates embrace a business simulation to deliver a presentation with Q&A’s at a conference of senior leaders, business guests and peers. With a focus on Preparing, Planning, Doing & Reviewing as a foundation, the project was an experiential mix of indoor and outdoor team building and self-awareness exercises, time management, negotiating, interviewing and budget control as well as group and 1:2:1 coaching.

The week was a huge success with the graduates delivering high quality presentations and sharing their personal and team developments, as well as growth goals for the future. A network has been set up to promote peer to peer support and help embed best practice.

The feedback from delegates, senior leaders and business guests was overwhelmingly positive, reflective, specific and insightful; it made us feel proud of the work we do and we look forward to working with them on the next module.

Having worked in partnership with National Grid for over 10 years, we attribute the success of our graduate programme to tailoring our offering to meet their evolving needs. Get in touch to find out how we can help you invest in your graduates to ensure a bright future.

Qualifications or people skills - what matters most?

This BBC Radio Five panel discussion explores changing selection processes and approaches for recruiting young talent.  Some employers are moving away from academic requirements as a means to an end and focusing instead on broader capabilities.

It features Stephen Isherwood from the Association of Graduate Recruiter (AGR) and is well worth a listen. Go to 02:35 for the full discussion.

Introducing Emotional Intelligence to emerging talent

It’s amazing how powerful an Emotional Intelligence tool can be to provide a different and comprehensive perspective on strengths and development areas. - particularly for emerging talent

We’ve just been running a Development Centre for graduates who’ve come to the end of their 18 month programme. This involves a series of placements alongside behavioural and technical development. The graduates are now about to embark on their first permanent post.

As part of the Development Centre we used JCA’s well-established EI questionnaire and following a group input, provided 1:1 coaching to help the graduates explore their profiles in greater depth.

What was striking was the inquisitiveness of the graduates to not only interpret their reports but to identify pragmatic steps for improvement. The exercise provided a powerful way of pulling together different strands of feedback, learning and understanding and also, through the coaching conversations, provided a clear focus for the next stage of development – alongside their all-important first substantive post.