5.23.2012

A Boss's Guide for Productive Young Employees

Happy hump day! Before I get started today, check out my guest post on my friend Bridget's blog - Money After Graduation! I talk about salary perceptions and its effects. Go go go! :)

Just recently, I wrote a post about getting along with older co-workers. I was really excited to hear such great input and comments on that post, so thanks for adding to the discussion! I like hearing from every perspective and hopefully someone took away some info that may help them from that post. As a follow-up post, I'd like to talk about not just how older workers can get along with younger workers, because let's face it... it's not that hard to get along with a young person (at least I don't think it is?), but how bosses can get along better with their newer and possibly younger employees for more productivity.

Since I've worked all throughout college, sometimes working up to 30 hours a week on top of a full-time school schedule, I've had a lot of experience as the lowest paid and most unappreciated employee. I worked at a law firm with 6 attorneys and my job title was a File Clerk (aka Attorneys' slave), however I was doing so much more than that. I basically killed myself to please everyone. I gained invaluable experience and as much as I complained, I enjoyed every second of it. Even though the job itself was tiring, I had amazing colleagues that guided me and helped me in so many ways. I still keep in touch with them and I truly believe it's because of how great of a leader they all were.
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Here are some ways bosses can get more productive young and new employees:

  • If you're stressed, we're stressed. When you're stressed out, it's contagious. When you're yelling at us, we get frantic and start to panic. We know that if we mess up, it will reflect badly on you...so try to remain calm and know that we are there to help you.
  • "Thank you" and "Please" go a long way. I think this goes without saying but I know sometimes people may forget. Us young'ins would appreciate a boss more if they thanked us and said please. "Please do this" sounds so much better than "Hey, do this."
  • Positive reinforcement drives us to work harder. Like #2, it is nice to hear when we are doing a great job. It will make us strive to please you even more if you continue to let us know when we are exceeding your expectations.
  • Tell us when you don't like something. In addition to telling us when we are doing great, be sure to let us know when we're not. If we don't hear anything, we'll be uneasy or take it as a sign that we should continue doing our jobs the same way. Since we're eager to learn, if you tell us not to do something, chances are we will try to avoid it in the future.
  • Give clear and concise rules and expectations. Most often, I had great instructions and clear and concise ways to put together large projects. Especially if you are short on time, you don't want us to screw something really important up. Spend a bit more time explaining the rules and it will work out in your favor in the end so you don't end up redoing our work or having us redo it.
  • Define responsibilities. As a new employee that hasn't been in the workforce for a long time, we're sometimes not sure what we're supposed to do and we don't know when we are overstepping boundaries. It's probably a good idea to let us know what our duties are and what we should not be doing.
  • We can't read your mind. Some of the attorneys I worked with always thought I could read their minds. Apparently if they said one thing, they really meant something else - "Bark" actually meant "jump" - you get the picture.
  • We're human beings too. Even though we're younger or new, we still have families and other lives outside of work. Our lives don't revolve around work so it's nice to talk about other stuff once in awhile like hobbies and interests.
  • Know when to back off. Screaming at us over and over doesn't really work. It may relieve some stress for you but we may be crying inside. It's okay to keep bugging us for that project if we haven't finished it on time yet, but if the deadline is not even close and you keep piling on other projects, it may make us irritated and thus become less productive.
  • Remember that you are a leader/role model. A leader is someone that is looked up to and one that we respect. Know that your every move is being watched from the way you treat your employees to the way you carry yourself, and your work ethics. We'll remember you for a long time even though you may not remember us in the future.
  • Be willing to help. Although we are there to help our bosses, sometimes we do need help too! If you have the time to chip in or help, it would make both of our lives easier.
  • It will take time, but we'll get thereSince we are young and new, please don't expect us to change overnight and fit into the role of the position after a few days. It takes weeks and sometimes months to get adjusted to any new situation. We may make mistakes in the beginning but give us a chance to prove ourselves.
  • Put yourselves in our shoes. Try to remember what it was like entering the workforce for the first time and how nervous and scared you were, yet how willing and eager you were to learn.

Bosses play such an important role in the productivity of a company. I learned so much just by being under the wing of some fantastic leaders and role models. I was surprised at how much I learned about bosses just by being their employee. It also makes me appreciate what my current boss does, but at the same time I know what would probably make her a better boss.

This post was meant to be light-hearted and catered towards younger and newer employees, most often working in really low jobs. Mid-level managers may also benefit from this guide too!

Are you someone's boss? Do you have any other additions to add to this list? What do you do to create productive employees?

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