Releasing the Workplace Potential of Young Professionals
In the lead article Work in the Developing World Arrianna Marie writes, “[there] must be the right type of jobs, filled by the right type of workers”. I believe the process of sustainability and development has to include one more step in its methodology – which is to provide the right type of professional environment for the newly employed.
The issues of the scarcity of jobs has already been touched on by Rabab Khan and Aown Kazmi from Pakistan. What I intend to do here is deal with the issues faced by “those already employed”. Young employed workers of all kinds are facing a lack of support, and a lack of transparency of information and organizational coordination. The prevalent kind of organisational attitude delays professional development and individual growth among workers and impacts on quality of work. And this is especially true of the academic institutions.
Some people in my professional and social circles have been struggling in their professional careers for the last 3-4 years. They relate that the administrative problems and non-supportive attitude of senior employees affect their performance in non-constructive and unproductive ways. Most of the time their queries go unanswered which not only hampers their own professional development but also goes against the interests of the recruiting organisation. As one of them comments “the biased attitude of the person in charge of administration and management turns the organisation into a colony. If your way of teaching, your work style or viewpoint is not stamped by the centre, you are nowhere. So there remain two choices only: either to become a puppet or stay in the background – which is how intellectual and professional growth gets stifled”. Another colleague expresses this problem as follows: “Bad administrative behaviour exercises an unnecessary pressure and results in loss of concentration. And a preoccupied and tense mind cannot materialize its full potential”.
I have often heard many elderly people and my own father say that “leg pulling, bad behaviour, and intimidating attitudes are deeply embedded in the culture of professionalism in Pakistan”. This is not only true of Pakistan: I have heard exactly the same thoughts voiced by a friend working in a highly reputed Indian academic institute.
As a matter of fact, these young employees are enthusiastic and passionate about their work but issues like these serve as roadblocks and the problems cited above complicate their understanding of what professionalism actually means.
There are many problems but the three most important in my view are:
(a) Lack of Transparency – Withholding of Information
The lack of transparency of information related to both job expectations and assigned projects is an important factor that cripples professional development and impedes quality of work. Job descriptions are kept vaguely open in certain clauses in the job contract, and sometimes there is even no document stating exactly what the actual job requirements and expectations are. This gives senior and administrative staff power over the activities of young employees and means that they can assign them to do almost “anything and everything”. Furthermore, whenever any task is assigned, no proper orientation is provided to the assignee which leads to mishandling, and wastage of time and energy.
(b) “All rules are for young employees”
The problem of work and moral ethics is a serious one. Senior employees are often observed bending the rules just as it suits them in terms of office time-keeping, late submission of projects/assignments and timely reporting. Young employees, on the other hand, are kept under strict monitoring as though they were ‘already shying away from their work’. Close monitoring is not necessarily bad – but abuse of close monitoring is. The little mistakes committed by unknowing and novice young employees can and should be addressed by counselling rather than by “outraged calls or reprimanding memoranda”. These are all reasons why people shy away from working as a team in Pakistan.
(c) Dynamism Blocked
The weight of the status-quo culture discourages innovation from young employees and fosters an environment devoid of creativity, innovation and dynamism. The comments of my colleagues go to show that different viewpoints and different styles of work are not welcomed or tolerated which leads to mental resignation and stagnation.
To address these problems, we need to run corrective training programs for administration handling and public dealing which will promote the development of professionalism in organisations while also providing space where a creative and dynamic work environment can flourish. Such programs would not only support learning in the professional environment but also emphasise the need for ethics in professional and social culture. If the work environment improves, the pressure on young employees will be released, and this will benefit not only the growth of professionals but the growth of organisations as well.
**The names of people and institutes have been kept anonymous to protect their identities, as this article aims to highlight a problem and not level specific criticisms. I believe that these problems can be dealt with and resolved if only the proper measures are put in place and carried through.