On a webinar today about the future of higher education, the presenter* commented that it wasn’t enough to give college students career competencies, rather we had to also give the students a “level of language” that allowed them to communicate their value to employers. Students learn many employable skills through their involvement on campus, but if they are unable to articulate that connection it does not have the same worth. Having negotiation experience from booking entertainers won’t give students a heads up in their job if they can’t speak about it, nor do their teamwork skills from intramurals add gravitas without an explicit linkage from the field to the conference room.
I think the same principle applies to employees and employers. Many times we give our staff projects without explaining the connection to the greater goal or helping them to understand the value gained by their work. We don’t equip staff members with language to communicate the meaning of the organization or their role within it. Their job as training coordinator isn’t translated into serving as a vehicle for employee retention or to allowing the company to serve clients in need of assistance. The admissions counselors don’t see themselves with relationship-building skills that translate into fund raising.
Think about your role in providing language and formalizing the value of the experiences you provide. As Millennials and Gen Z become more prevalent in the workplace, your ability to illustrate the benefit of their work to them will go far in creating a culture of growth and satisfaction.
*Dr. Justin Lawhead, Dean of Students at the University of Memphis