Do you remember your first professional job or even your second? It was all so foreign and overwhelming. Going to an office five days a week, the office space itself, the number of people you had to interact with, the dress code? The hardest moment was probably the first time your manager looked at you like you had two heads and you had no idea why. Thinking back on that moment now, can you figure out why you got that look?

It's helpful to revisit those blurry memories of your own beginning in the workforce, especially when you're managing an entry level-ish person. Recognizing that you were once that naive, ignorant, maybe even clueless, new team member can help you access the three tools needed to get the associate on track.

#1 Compassion
Memories will help you find compassion pretty darn quickly. It's easy to feel respect and kindness toward someone when we can see ourselves in their naive, ignorant, and maybe even clueless behavior. That compassion softens our anger, frustration, and exasperation, and shifts it to an understanding of what that person may be feeling--he's probably feeling lost and needs a map!

#2 Context
The map he needs is the tool you have at your fingertips: Context. You have it from years in the workforce and workplace. He doesn't have this! He can't possibly have this at his age! He wants it desperately, so badly he sometimes says the wrong thing or does the dumb thing in an attempt to find the context.

Imagine you and your young associate are building a huge lego building. He's never seen legos before or a lego building; he's just excited to be a part of the building crew. Your first step would probably be to show him the blueprint, pictures of other lego buildings, and samples of the lego blocks and how they fit together. That's called Contextualizing.

It's your responsibility to define the Context for him as often as he needs it. You'll need to learn his language so he can understand the Context you are describing to him. Is he visual? Org charts and cocktail napkins are great tools. Is she statistical? Numbers, percentages, and graphs are great tools for her. Literal? Flow charts are perfect.

#3 Patience and Respectful Repetition
Start doing those breathing exercises right now. Count to ten and start again. It takes years of time in a position or company to build the context you use every day, all day long. You probably take it for granted because it's so ingrained, but try to remember how lost you were back in the day.

You may benefit from presenting the full year Marketing Strategy every 3 months, a refresher of sorts. Remember, each time your associate sees it, it's automatically in a new context because it's a few months later than the last time he saw it. He probably learned quite a bit in those few months and that enables him to Contextualize the Marketing Strategy even better now.

Build that lego building slowly and surely, and you'll end up with a rock solid lego building, and a loyal and strong contributor on your team.