An open letter to my younger colleague 2



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To my (much) younger colleague,

In the past few months, this company has experienced an influx of fresh new faces, many embarking on the beginning of their long working life. This happens every year, and it’s great to have you all on board… and so on and so forth.

New beginnings are exciting and bring with them hope and promise. I remember when I started working for the first time; I was so enthusiastic – perhaps a little too much! But I quickly realised I had a lot to learn. I also realised that, although I had the grand title of “assistant to the senior manager”, I was actually a glorified tea lady.

You may wonder why I am telling you all this. It’s because, even though you have a degree in Human Resources and graduated with honours, you smiled pleasantly and said ‘”yes, of course” when I asked you to offer our clients a cup of coffee.

I can now tell you, that was a little test – and you passed.

I have trained hundreds of people over the years and can count on two hands those who passed this test first time. Each of them has gone on to become successful on whatever path they chose, and it’s not because they had a double degree, more ambition or were smarter than others, it’s because they were blessed with common sense, respect and decency.

You are fresh and far from perfect, but I can see your potential. For this reason, I would like to share with you three things I wish every new graduate could understand:

It’s not all about you

This may sound harsh, but the sooner you understand this fact of life, the better off you will be. This job, this company, this world does not revolve around you, no matter how great you are. Your role was not created with you in mind. It is you who must adapt to the workplace, not the other way around.

You don’t always have to be right

Take the pressure off your shoulders to be The Best and start applying yourself to doing your part in the best possible way. It’s hard to understand this when you’re young (I remember; I was there once too!) but there are things you don’t know. What’s more, there are things you don’t even know you don’t know. They will come if you are open to learning from others who have been around a bit longer than you.

You and I are very different 

Please don’t expect me to think in the same way you do. Having not grown up with the internet and constant media, my brain is wired differently to yours. That doesn’t mean you know more than me; it just means we have different ways of doing things.

Thank you for being someone who bothers to listen to the “old lady in the office”. You will go far.

What would you like to say to your younger colleagues past or present?


Guest Contributor

  1. Lovely words of advice. You don’t get that wisdom around these days. In my time, I heard a lot of neophyte workers who wanted to go right up to the top of the ladder and snubbing the ground mat of the stair.

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