If you could be a rookie at work again, would you?
You might immediately think, “heck, no” considering all the mistakes you made when you were new to the job.
But if you think harder, you might begin to realize that even though you stumbled sometimes, you were a rookie with passion, with drive and with an innovative mindset.
What happened to that person?
That’s what Liz Wiseman believes a lot of people wonder. As author of a new book, “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work,” Wiseman argues that in our rapidly changing workplace, experience can be a curse while inexperience can be a blessing.
She says that through her research, she finds rookies often have a different mindset at work that makes them operate with higher levels of self-awareness and move faster than their experienced peers. Because of their inexperience, rookies are driven to ask questions of those with greater expertise. As a result, they often walk away with better solutions. A more experienced worker, she finds, is more likely to solve an issue on his own without seeking outside expertise or simply follow standard practices.
Wiseman says that while some may consider rookies to be bumbling clods, the reality is that many rookies have nothing to lose so they are often open to new possibilities. They don’t get bogged down in old practices. They are optimistic as they explore new territories, focus on doing things differently and don’t worry about why they can’t do something.
Wiseman and her research team looked at nearly 400 workplace scenarios, noting how rookies took on work assignments compared to veteran workers. That enabled them to identify traits of successful and unsuccessful rookies and veterans.
They found the distinct rookie smarts mindset included:
- The “backpacker” rookies who had a mindset unencumbered by past practices or experience. They were open to new possibilities, explored new territory and didn’t get mired in stale best practices.
- The “hunter-gatherer” rookies looked for experts (read more here)
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