As the first week of school began this week in many school boards, it made me think about my experiences and feelings with the back to school season. As a student, every year I got a serious case of the back to school jitters. It started on the last week of summer and continued until mid September. It was a combination of excitement, nervousness and anxiety. It meant the lazy days of summer were over. It meant that I was going to have to focus on schoolwork, adapt to change and frankly do some things I didn’t love doing (getting up early!). The truth is I still get the jitters, even 20+ years after graduating from grad school. The back to school season is still a signal to me that it’s time for:
- New challenges
- Return to a structured routine
- Increased workload
- Connecting with new people
We All Go Back to School
The fall is a very busy time at n-gen and for our clients. At this time, organizations focus on providing increased learning and development. It’s a time when employees and leaders are encouraged to learn new skills and achieve the goals that they set on their individual learning plans.
Regardless if you are new in your career or are near retirement, to some degree you will likely experience that ‘back to school’ feeling. The tone within your organization will likely change to be more formal, structured and focused. In most cases, summer hours are coming to an end. Most employees have taken their summer holidays and casual dress will be replaced with more formal business attire. There is often an informal culture shift within your team to indicate that it’s time to ramp up performance, focus on work and deliver greater results. Some welcome this new season and for others, well, it feels a bit like detention.
Either way, it’s important to recognize how you respond and what to do to be most successful as we transition into the new ‘school year’.
Tips For Managing The Jitters
Similar to how students need to prepare to join a new class, with a new teacher, we can manager our jitters by also planning for the changes ahead. Below are 5 tips to help.
- Prepare for your new routine
Whether that involves changing your morning routine to be able to drop your kids off at school, leaving early to beat the increased traffic or simply having to take a different mode of transportation to work, the more we prepare for our new routine, the less nervous we will be about the change
- Meet new colleagues
Taking the time to meet with new colleagues that have joined your team or getting to know others in a different department that you will be working with will help to build a strong foundation and will improve collaboration and performance during busy times.
- Talk to your manager about expectations
While we celebrate a New Year every January, for many the fall is time for goal setting and strategic planning for the coming calendar year. Take the time to discuss with your manager their expectations of you, how you can contribute to your team’s performance and what, if anything, needs to change this fall to improve your success
- Stagger big changes
Change is stressful, even if it’s good change. If you find that your world is upside down in September with getting your kids back into a school routine and planning new after school activities, give yourself a break. This is not the time to also implement other big personal changes. If you’re going to start a new health and wellness routine, ease into it. If you are going to redecorate your home, maybe hold off for a few weeks. As you adapt to a busier routine and a heavier work load, become comfortable with that current changes before you introduce other big initiatives that can possibility wait.
- Focus on learning
Embrace the back to school spirit by evaluating what new knowledge, skills and abilities you would like to gain by the end of the year. Tap into your learning and development team and explore what courses are available to you. Set a plan for how you can achieve new goals through formal or informal learning experiences, be it participation in a mentoring program, attending a workshop, or reading some new books.
As students begin a new school year, its time for all of us to embrace the sense of change, growth and learning that the fall brings. My back to school jitters are the motivation to hit the books, focus on what I want to achieve and implement new changes. I think I hear that school bell ringing!
As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.