Managing youth at work can be a delicate balance. Faced with new challenges each day, youth tend to seek opportunities for guidance, and are willing to learn at each turn. At the same time however, they often think they know best and can respond negatively to criticism. By taking the time to understand how young people think, you can tap into a source of ingenious and energetic employees while minimising their youthful shortcomings. Here’s our list of tips for managing youth at work.
Give them responsibility from the get go
One of the first tips to managing youth at work is delegating responsibility. Mark Pincus, founder of online gaming site Zynga, put it best when he said you should make everyone in your business “CEO of something”. By giving every employee their own project, you empower them with the motivation of responsibility. As something that young people aren’t necessarily accustomed to, having their own private responsibility will force them to think for themselves and discover answers to questions on their own. Even if the project seems slightly too hard it can still be of benefit through feedback, which ultimately improves any employee.
Stay open to suggestion
Young people are creative. It doesn’t matter what kind of person they are. Even a lazy employee can find ways to speed up a job or make it redundant. This ingenuity can be of real benefit if cultivated in the right way. By coaching (either yourself or a senior staff member) a younger employee to not only know and do their job well, but to actively seek out ways to improve it, you can plant the seed of creativity in their mind. This licence to think is almost a reward in itself. And all it takes is you giving a few moments to listen to some ideas that could potentially save time and money.
Be SMART when it comes to goal setting
George Doran first proposed the concept of SMART (Specific, Measureable, Assignable, Realistic and Time Based) goals in 1981. This model has been a business success story for decades and is especially functional with regards to young workers as it lets them know exactly what is expected and, that it is within reason. This can be especially helpful when you need to critique the efforts any worker as it gives you information you need to show that you were fair in your distribution of work and that any criticism they receive is not unjustified. However, ensuring that each of these factors is met, you should expect good work out of your young employees.
Lead by example
Millenials are a generation that can often have issues parting themselves with their smart phones, or putting their back into serious physical labour. Having the benefit of seeing an older colleague power through a day’s work can be extremely inspiring. Whether you are site foreman or in marketing middle management, you want your employees to work hard. And there is no better way to do that than by showing them exactly what hard work looks like. This will you earn you greater professional respect and set your younger workforce on a path you can be happy with.