November 14, 2023
By: Andrew Mims, Business Analyst
Andrew Mims brings a unique blend of business management, technology, and thought leadership to PBS, attributing much of this success to his military background. Andrew was proud to serve his country in the Air National Guard and continues this service in the Reserves. He began his professional career in healthcare technology, including organizational IT infrastructure, and migrated into progressive business and financial roles after completing his Bachelor’s in Business Administration. As Business Analyst for PBS, Andrew focuses on strategic objectives, operational efficiency, and financial management. As a member of the Young Professional Committee, he looks forward to increasing involvement in RBMA and contributing to the advancement of our complex industry.
In today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape, I believe young professionals (YPs) have a unique opportunity to make a significant impact in their organization. As advocates for their executive team, they spearhead strategic objectives and align their team’s capabilities to accomplish them. They advocate for themselves by increasing their value to the organization, and for their team by fostering a collaborative environment, ensuring they have the necessary resources to succeed. Executives think “big picture” and are often removed from how their strategic plans get accomplished. It becomes the responsibility of the YP to digest, filter the project requirements and translate them into actionable strategies for their team.
Reflecting on my experiences in the Nevada Air National Guard, my team was responsible for aircraft maintenance and providing safe and fully mission-capable aircraft for the pilots. Our unit led the Modular Airborne Firefighting Mission, delivering thousands of pounds of fire retardant over fires in the western U.S. During these missions, the aircraft are pushed to their structural limits and break often. I remember looking into my boss’s eyes during an emergency, and him asking for a complex task to be completed faster. Knowing my team would be pushed to their maximum capability, my heart sank as I agreed to his expectations. My team suffered, but accomplished the task accurately, as the flight crew’s life depended on it.
What are a YP’s obligations when the executive team’s expectations and the department team’s capabilities are not aligned?
Advocating for Yourself
This type of situation can make or break a YP’s career. If mismanaged, leadership may lose faith in their ability to deliver, creating missed opportunities for growth and advancement. Therefore, it is important for YPs to advocate for themselves by effectively communicating their concerns, suggesting alternative solutions and setting realistic expectations early.
This scenario holds the potential to be a defining moment that either propels a young professional’s career forward or sets it on a challenging trajectory. If not navigated skillfully, it could erode the leadership team’s confidence in the YPs ability to deliver results. This loss of confidence potentially hinders the YP’s personal growth, advancement within the company and the realization of their potential.
The burden rests upon the YP to take proactive measures and exert control over their career trajectory. A multifaceted approach, focused on effective communication, strategic thinking and selfadvocacy is essential. YPs must develop their ability to articulate their concerns, uncertainties and potential roadblocks to their immediate supervisors and higher-level executives without fear of repercussions. Fostering open and honest communication channels highlights their commitment to the organization’s success and demonstrates their willingness to confront challenges head-on.
Presenting potential problems without solutions can be counterproductive. YPs should go beyond mere complaints and actively propose alternative strategies or solutions that address the existing challenges. This showcases their problem-solving skills and indicates their dedication to finding constructive ways to contribute to the company’s goals. Some fundamentals include:
- Setting realistic expectations for leadership.
- Understanding the team’s capabilities, limitations and available resources.
- Collaborating with leadership and department teams to achieve goals.
Young professionals should feel empowered to advocate for themselves by requesting more reasonable timelines or additional support if required. This is not a sign of weakness, but a demonstration of their commitment to delivering high-quality work. Showcasing their ability to take a holistic view of the situation, identifying potential bottlenecks and taking steps to mitigate them. By doing so, they position themselves as strategic assets who can anticipate challenges and collaborate effectively with executive and departmental teams to ensure successful outcomes.
Overall, this situation becomes a litmus test for a young professional’s ability to thrive under pressure, demonstrate leadership potential and influence their career trajectory. Approaching it with effective communication, strategic problem-solving and self-advocacy will create an opportunity forshowcasing value, fostering positive relationships and success.
Advocating for Leadership
Advocating for executives is a multifaceted and necessary responsibility. YPs translate the executive team’s principal vision and objectives into tangible plans and actions for their teams. YPs play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between high-level strategic thinking and the practical execution required to achieve the executive team’s strategic goals.
Advocating for executives requires YPs to act as communicators, interpreters and motivators. They serve as channels of information, ensuring that their respective teams understand and embrace the executive team’s strategic objectives. This involves breaking down complex strategies into digestible fragments, clarifying their significance and illustrating how they contribute to the organization’s success. Building the team’s support for the “big picture” is vital to effective advocacy. YPs need to immerse themselves in the organization’s broader goals, market dynamics and competitive landscape. This knowledge enables them to contextualize the significance of their team’s contributions within their capabilities. By connecting the team’s tasks and the company’s overarching strategy, YPs can instill a sense of purpose and ownership among team members.
YPs must be adept at aligning strategic goals with their team’s capabilities and resources. Assessing their team’s strengths and limitations, then constructing plans that leverage these factors, will assist in advancing the organization’s objectives. Identifying deficiencies, then advocating for resource needs will boost efficiency and morale. Effective communication is essential for conveying messages that resonate with their team members. Strong interpersonal skills, empathy and the ability to adapt communication styles will bolster support for strategic initiatives.
Motivation is an integral aspect of advocating for executives. YPs must inspire their teams by illustrating the potential successes and positive impacts of accomplishing the strategic objectives. This is best approached by:
- Creating a bridge between the visionary thinking of the leadership and the operational execution of the team they lead.
- Highlighting each team member’s value and skillset necessary to achieve goals.
- Understanding the strategic and tactical aspects of objectives to be able to communicate and champion them across various layers of the organization.
Advocating for Your Team
YPs must go beyond being a mere conduit for executive directives. They foster an empowering environment where each team member is not only equipped to contribute effectively, but is also enabled to grow and excel. This is accomplished through creating open lines of communication, advocating for resources, and shielding the team from distractions.
YPs must cultivate an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable expressing their concerns, ideas and aspirations. This involves creating open communication channels and genuinely valuing the insights and perspectives shared by every individual. By demonstrating a willingness to listen and understand, YPs build trust and rapport with their team members, which is vital for effective advocacy. Not just a task manager, YPs have the potential to guide team members’ career journeys. They contribute to their team members’ personal and professional growth by taking on a mentorship role. They provide guidance based on their experiences, helping others navigate challenges, seize opportunities and develop a deeper understanding of their organizational roles. This mentorship dynamic fosters a sense of loyalty, as team members recognize the YP’s commitment to their success.
YPs can narrow knowledge or skill gaps that might inhibit their team’s productivity by advocating for additional training programs, workshops, or resources. By securing these opportunities, YPs demonstrate their dedication to equipping their team with the tools needed to excel in their roles. YPs can foster a culture of collaboration where team members are encouraged to share their expertise and help each other succeed. Celebrating achievements and acknowledging contributions boosts morale and underlines the value everyone brings to the team.
The multifaceted role of young professionals in today’s rapidly evolving and competitive business landscape can drive organizational success. By advocating for their executive team, themselves, and team members, YPs possess the ability to shape their careers and foster a thriving environment. They are challenged with leadership responsibilities and strategic thinking while balancing executive expectations and team capabilities. As the liaison between vision and execution, YPs must utilize effective communication, strategic problem-solving and self-advocacy to overcome obstacles. YP’s translate leadership’s strategic visions into actionable realities by bridging the divide and cultivating a culture of purpose and dedication. By empowering their team members and supporting their growth, YPs shape a cohesive department capable of overcoming challenges and achieving collective success. Their role is not confined to job titles, but extends to becoming catalysts for positive change. As they navigate the intricacies between strategic objectives and the practicalities of their team’s capabilities, YPs can develop a process that achieves expected outcomes for all facets of their organization.