Here’s what we’re hearing when we speak with executives:

“We’re worried about our early talent. They struggle to speak to and connect with clients and colleagues. We’re afraid we’re not giving them the skills they need to succeed in our organization.”

A generation whose formative years happened during the COVID-19 pandemic means limited opportunities to develop the professional skills they need in the workplace.

Many new employees find it difficult to speak without advanced preparation or a script. They prefer virtual conversations like Slack or text, instead of synchronous conversations over the phone or in person.

They’re less experienced with the tried-and-true methods their managers rely on to network, build relationships, and speak to clients.

As senior leaders, we need to be more intentional in the learning opportunities we provide our young talent and emerging leaders. It’s up to us to ensure they become versatile communicators who can confidently build connections – virtually and in person – that set them up for career success.

Here is a modern approach to help you reframe your mindset about young talent and help them build the essential communication skills they need for their professional leadership development as well as foster self-leadership.

Give them a safe space to practice: Recognize that onboarding needs to include training in professional skills like communication and networking. Incorporate experiential skills-based training that includes role-play simulations and tailored practice exercises. Create a safe space for skill building so they feel comfortable getting their reps in and receiving constructive feedback.

Help them tap into their sense of purpose: Young professionals are looking for work that is meaningful to them and with organizations that align with their values and sense of purpose. In your training programs, encourage them to connect with their own sense of purpose and show them how they fit into the larger picture of your organization’s values and goals.

Provide a sense of community: At Global Public Speaking, we love working with organizations who bring together their early talent because of the community they create for people to get to know one another. They often serve as a lifeline for building skills and sharing knowledge that will also create lifelong relationships. Bring in mentors who can serve as valuable sources of organizational knowledge and experience.

Let them teach you: Young professionals have new ways of looking at the world, including technology and workplace culture. Rather than teaching them how to conform to your organization, recognize they have valuable perspectives to share and ideas that can help you modernize your company and its culture. Be open to meeting them where they are.

Invest in your leaders early and often. Build an environment where people have the skills they need to succeed, and they will become the successors that shape the future of your organization.