Recently I was invited to speak at the local Young Enterprise finals. My brief was to offer some inspiration to an audience made of up Year 11s, their parents and mentors from the local business community. Before taking to the stage I listened to 20 presentations by the Young Enterprise companies. They summarised in 4 minutes the highs and lows of running their companies, and shared their learning, good and bad. I had been briefed to offer inspiration, but it was me who felt inspired by what I heard.
The presentations were filled with facts and evaluation arrived at through analysis and reflection. They were self-critical but crystal clear about areas where they could build and improve. It was impressive stuff.
“EBI” – Even Better If
If you haven’t seen marking in school books recently, then get hold of one. There are ticks of endorsement, comments about areas for further improvement, and pupils are invited to note down their own “E.B.I” – (Even better if …) – the signpost to better things next time.
In my career I have been involved in recruiting many young people, often early in their careers. I have also been to those employer forums where the discussion focusses on a shared frustration that those early in their employment are under-prepared for the world of work. Training providers and schools try earnestly to pinpoint what is missing to plug the gap.
It goes without saying that Young Enterprise is a great initiative, involving the expertise of people in business passing on their knowledge and proven experience. Long may the opportunity last, and enlightened schools take up this well-honed programme. As I reflected on the event, I wondered if employers should be doing more to understand the tools that these young people have, serving them well in developing good judgment and ways to build and improve on what they know. It is a given for their educational progress.
In the world of work we have our own lexicon about missions, visions, competencies, behaviours, SMART objectives and stretch targets, to name a few. This seems a long way from self-evaluation, pointers to “lift the mark” and EBI. But is it?
My professional focus is coaching – just one of the ways to improve performance in the work-place. A rewarding experience for both coach and coachee. The tools to hand are reflection, self-evaluation and a personal commitment to action. It struck me as I listened just how far these Year 11’s could go if they experienced a coaching culture in their first experiences of work and where their proven skills are a requirement for the role. It would take a revisit of the lexicon, and a changed view of the value that these very able young people can bring to the organisation. Maybe a stretch, but at the very least, a regular check-in on individual and team EBI’s at the end of the day would mark a change. Worth a try.