Telling graduates the truth creates a culture of inclusion

May 10, 2022 | Development

A culture based on truth will be what graduates want to be part of and will feel included in, explains Nadir Rizvi, a graduate manager at IBM Consulting.

For some reason, we don’t really use words like ‘truth’ at work anymore – or did we ever? Come to think of it, do we talk about truth that much outside of work in the modern world…apart from when discussing who attended a party during lockdown and who didn’t?!

For some, inclusion seems to start and end with recruitment. You hire people who look different, make your work place look like the United Nations and that’s it, inclusion done, box ticked, thanks and good night.

Of course, there is so much more to inclusion. Hiring of course makes a difference but what about the culture of the organisation being hired in to? If the culture is not a healthy one, will your early professionals want to stay? I would argue that a culture based on transparency and the truth will be one that graduates want to be part of and will feel included in.

One way of starting to instil such a culture is by understanding and implementing a conversation framework known as Radical or Compassionate Candor as developed by Kim Scott. If I was describing this concept to my six-year-old niece, I would say, ‘Tell the truth, but do it nicely’.

Now, as someone who works in the world of management consulting, I love a good two by two matrix, so here’s what Kim Scott came up with:

Going back to my GCSE maths days, on the ‘y’ axis we are measuring how much someone cares and on the ‘x’ axis, how much they will challenge.

So, if you care personally about a graduate you manage and notice them regularly looking at their phone in meetings and see how that is damaging their professional reputation, you are going to compassionately challenge them and point this out to them in a one-to-one discussion. You have their back and want them to do well, so you include them in this piece of feedback to help their professional growth. If you don’t care and stay silent, that’s ‘manipulative insincerity’. If you do care and stay silent, that’s ‘ruinous empathy’ and that is very, very common in the workplace. If you don’t care and provide the feedback anyway, that’s ‘obnoxious aggression’.

To not challenge compassionately with the truth is going to exclude the graduate from valuable feedback, which will help them become a better professional.

And imagine you decide to say nothing and do exclude the graduate from the feedback. And then that feedback comes back to bite them in a critical moment e.g. appraisal, promotion case. That graduate could come back to you at some point and say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me, didn’t you care?’

To hear more on my thoughts about how the truth told in a kind way is critical to creating a culture of inclusion for graduates, listen to my session at the ISE Development Conference 2022

Read more insight from ISE events

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