Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” 

Although we assume that with greater knowledge comes greater confidence, it’s often the case that increasing our ability, expertise and experience in an area can lead to an awareness that there is much more left to learn. There is a theory known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect developed by psychologist-researchers David Dunning and Justen Kruger that believes ignorance, in contrast to knowledge, improves an individual’s confidence.

We sent out a survey to a focus group of new-to-work starters and their managers to research the value of creating a new-to-work course. This starter pack would consist of lessons, exercises and case studies that introduce new beginners to the foundations of the job, such as time management, writing business emails, managing a budget and communicating effectively. 

We were interested to find contrary answers from both groups. Whilst 85% of the new starters felt confident in time management, 75% of the managers felt that time management had room for improvement. Similarly, 73% of the new starters felt confident in communicating effectively but 100% of the managers stated that the new starters could improve their communication. 

Unlike the other skill sets we listed, such as managing a budget or writing business emails, we use time management and effective communication daily, outside of the workplace. So, it is reasonable that the new-to-work starters felt they had more confidence in these two areas. The Dunning-Kruger Effect proposes that without a full comprehension of something, what we believe we understand may distort us into thinking highly of our own understanding or lack thereof. The survey results indicate that the new starters believe they are proficient at time management and effective communication, but have they considered the importance of these two skill sets in the workplace context? 

Good time management helps to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, leading to a better work life balance, which in turn creates a preferred working environment. Proper utilisation of time and prioritisation of activities increases efficiency and the quality of work which benefits the organisation. Effective communication is an essential tool in achieving productivity, it is key for team collaboration and cooperation and helps drive better results at every level. A failure in communication can be detrimental to a business. Research by US firm Gartner shows that 70% of business mistakes are due to poor communication. 

Time management and effective communication play a fundamental role in our daily lives and we’re likely to believe that we are sufficient in both. However, both skill sets require a different application when used in the workplace and need to be taught in this new context. Time management and effective communication are critical to ensuring a productive workplace. The most efficient ways to utilise and understand these tools should be included in job training.

If you’re noticing this kind of disconnect with your new starters, have you thought about using our ‘Gateway to Work’ digital careers programme. This programme offers real-life work experiences across 10 companies and 17 sectors. Students can complete real tasks from a variety of different sectors including Brand and Marketing, Human Resources, Customer Experience, Catering, Sales, Care and many more. Each experience is designed to be completed within two to four hours, giving students an opportunity to develop their knowledge in that field.

Written by Reed's Group Brand Manager: Rosie Reed.