Siks Mikah gives a moment or two to reflect on everyday scenarios in and about the HR and corporate environment. He would like to hear #whatdoyouthink about the views presented in the comment box.

By Siks Mikah

In the last company I worked for, it was a digital online publication, run by oldies and operated by newbies (millennials).

The first advice I got from my boss when I was planning for new hire was “hire them young, they have the technical skills. We can provide the grooming and experience that they can carry in their resume and..they come cheap.” I could almost see that wink in his eye.

However, that was the plan. What he didn’t realise was newbie millennials, while they came cheap and tech savvy they also came with a host of incompetencies. Lack of social skills for one! And the base qualifier for social skills is communication skills. An extended whatsapp message does not qualify to be an official letter. While some blurring of lines between managers and subordinates is allowed in this “google inspired” work environment, a firm handshake and proper address of your superior go a long way for career advancement.

So we are talking about helping these young potentials develop competencies – a term that is broad enough to encompass persuasive skills for a salesperson, communications written and verbal for frontliners such as receptionists and written for staff in general and even time management.

Joshua Lim was 22 when he sat in front of me for the job of a writer with a pile of impressive certificates and resume in front of him. He flipped open his Mac and logged into his blog to show me the photos and text content he had produced. He seemed to have quite a good eye for composing photos. I glanced right down the page and saw his affordable asking pay. Without batting an eyelid I signed up this youngster.

A week into the job, Joshua was good with his work but not so good with working in a team. Joshua dissed everyone’s opinion. He preferred to work alone and on his own terms. We were not about to lose this affordable talent and neither were we going to frustrate the rest of the team. We got his superior to work with him one to one and showed him how the work that he did could be better enhanced if he allowed others to help.

Joshua was also sent kicking and screaming to team building programmes but we believe he came back a better person. It was not an overnight success story of course but he was more cooperative.

Unlike Joshua, newbie Jane Chin was 21, fresh out of college, the proverbial eager beaver who wanted to do everything. As a result of that she became the favourite of the oldies and was given or laden with work from all sections short of walking the dog! Her eagerness soon turned into an overdose of new things to learn and do.

Jane constantly felt inadequate as she was unable to finish a job or do it properly. Sometimes she got reprimanded and sometimes she got bailed out by a good samaritan newbie. Either way there was no job satisfaction and she soon contemplated giving up and resign.

Nope. I can’t afford to lose such energy and if I could stop her from volunteering and stop the oldies from dumping work on her I could help her to focus and float. Jane needed to breathe and she needed someone to manage her learning curve.

Jane was basically a good administrator who likes to Instagram because she likes taking photos and was good at capturing candid photos. And because she was on Instagram the oldies thought she was a multi tasker admin-cum-social media expert on analytics and got her doing research data for product after product. We found out that Jane could also sing and played the ukelele. Here I had to put my foot down – no music video for Jane.

Mr good samaritan who always rescued Jane from drowning was Chen See Mun. See Mun was the oldest of the newbies. He’s 25 and had worked a year or two in a dive school. He could write, dabble a bit into photography and wore his confidence on his sleeve. While Jane got dumped with world load, See Mun volunteered and wanted to be a part of every project in the company.

His confidence was infectious and the rest of the team was sold to the idea that he could deliver whatever he had taken on. See Mun was genuine in wanting to do the work but often ended up incurring the wrath of the others because he didn’t know how to prioritise.

Owing to this See Mun ended up earning a reputation of an inefficient worker. Apart from disrupting work flow See Mun’s inability to prioritise also earned him a reputation of being inefficient.

His immediate supervisor came to the rescue and helped him to limit his task in hand to four, then helped him to map out the amount of work against the deadlines. See Mun soon had order in his job by sorting out the urgent ones and the important ones and also how to manage his time. Soon it was a happier See Mun and a happier team.

The talents in my basket of “affordable” millennial employees have since sprouted and are continuously being groomed for bigger roles in the company.

There is no one formula for grooming millennial talents, #whatdoyouthink. Tell us here in the comments box or post on D Jungle People’s FB page.

(Siks Mikah believes humility opens doors inward and outward. These are the writer’s own views and do not represent those of D Jungle People.)