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Maximising The Potential of Your Youth Workforce

Effective management of a youth workforce means striking a delicate balance. Often new and inexperienced in the industry and faced with new challenges each workday, youth workers tend to look for guidance and opportunities to learn. Conversely, some youth workers may approach work with an excess of confidence and self-belief, leading themselves to think they know best. This can cause problems when employers need to give constructive criticism.

Employers can prevent a lot of potential problems by taking the time to understand how a younger worker thinks. This can enable them to tap into a vein of energetic and dynamic employees, whilst minimising the chance of their youthful shortcomings affecting the business relationship.

Giving them responsibility for their job

Mark Pincus – the founder of wildly successful online gaming site Zynga – said that employers should make everyone in their business the ‘CEO of something’. Making everyone in the company solely responsible for an aspect of the business such as their project, they become more invested in the business itself and produce better quality work. Now your employees are motivating yourself. As this may be the first job that many young people have, they will be unaccustomed to having their own private responsibility. This method forces them to think for themselves and to discover answers to questions by themselves. Even if the project is outside the ability of the employee, it can be still be a benefit to them by providing an opportunity for feedback, which can improve any employee.

Keeping an open mind

It’s just a fact of life; young people are creative. It doesn’t matter what kind of person they are, even unmotivated employees can surprise bosses by finding a way to speed up a task or make it redundant. When properly harnesses, this ingenuity can be a real benefit. However, it has to be properly cultivated. Through coaching – either by yourself or by a senior staff member – younger employees not just in how to do their job but in how to look for ways to improve it, the seed of creativity can be planted in their mind. Some creatives consider this license to think almost a reward in itself. All it costs you is taking a few minutes out of your day every now and then to listen to some ideas that could potentially cut costs and save time.

Practicing SMART goal setting

SMART is not a new concept. Originally proposed by management consultant George Doran in 1981, the term refers to setting Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time Based goals. In the following four decades, it’s been a success story in businesses across the world. It is especially useful when working with younger employees because it gives them a sense of clarity. It lets them know exactly what is expected and ensures that they understand it is within reason. This knowledge is especially useful when you need to provide critique for an employee as it gives you the information you need to demonstrate that you were fair in how you distributed work and that your criticism is not unjustified. However, if you’re able to ensure that each of these factors is met, you should be safely able to expect good work from your young employees.

Leading by example

It’s one thing to tell your employees what you want, and another to show. Being able to see an older colleague do the hard yards of a full day’s work can be an inspiring moment for people just starting in an industry. Whether you’re a construction site foreman or a middle manager in a marketing firm, you want your employees to work their hardest. There’s no better way to give them a model for success than by showing them exactly what your version of success looks like. You’ll earn the respect of your younger workers and set them on a path that you can be happy with.

Let us know below in the comments what other factors you think help young people do their best at


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