Managing Recent Grads? 7 Ways to Avoid a Headache
BY Ilya Pozin
You'll get more out of the youngest part of the workforce if you put in the extra time and effort now.
Sometimes, managing entry-level employees can be, well, a pain.
At my company Ciplex, I've learned a lot about managing young employees through trial and error. With the help of my CEO, who's an expert in leadership and management, I've seen my staff make the shift from disengaged individuals to a fully connected and motivated team.
Here's my guide for getting the most out of entry-level employees:
1. Make regular communication mandatory.
If you're not regularly communicating with your entry-level employees, you may have a problem brewing. Keeping communication chains open and frequent is the best way to ensure your employees are kept in the loop, and trained to reach out to you when questions or concerns arise.
In my experience, it's best to choose a communication tool and standardize interactions with employees. For example, an internal instant messaging program, if your company requires frequent back-and-forth throughout the day, may be just what you need. Of course, pick the method that fits best with your workflow.
2. Let the feedback flow. As millennials, your entry-level employees likely thrive on feedback. According to a recent study, 80 percent of the millennial respondents say they prefer to receive feedback in real time. Sure, entry-level employees may be at the bottom of the totem pole in your company, but if you want them to improve (and hopefully advance), you've got to keep the feedback flowing.
What if providing regular feedback doesn't always fit into your schedule? Block off 30 minutes every month to meet with your entry-level team members to give feedback.
3. Find ways to recognize them. It doesn't matter whether your employees are entry-level or hold a senior role, they want praise. Plus, it's one of the simplest and most inexpensive things to give to your employees to improve engagement.
I make it a practice to reward even the smallest improvements in entry-level employees. This only increases their interest in pleasing you and helps them take pride in their work. You can recognize them with one-on-one praise, praise in front of their team, or even a small reward.
4. Teach them the value of hard work. Far too many entry-level employees believe they're just "putting in time" in their roles. You need to put an end to this way of thinking immediately. Your entry-level employees need to understand the value of hard work, and that they can't just coast until it's time to advance.
At my company, we work hard to instill the value of hard work into our teams. Things won't flow correctly if everyone isn't pulling their weight. Sometimes this means working late and helping your team members when you've finished your part of the project.
5. Be a mentor, or find someone who's up for the task. I can vouch for the importance of having a mentor--I attribute much of my success to a mentor I had in college. Your entry-level employees need an experienced professional to guide them, act as a sounding board, present them with valuable career insight--and help them become better employees. So, why not set up a mentorship program in your office or with an external resource?
6. Get rid of the time clock. Most employees and especially millennials crave flexibility in the workplace. Transform your office into a place where work is about goals being accomplished, and not about the hours on a time card.
My employees don't have hours and they're more productive and team-oriented than ever before. Give your employees core hours they need be in the office and let the rest come down to what meets their schedule. Trust your employees and you may be surprised with how they utilize their flexibility.
7. Ask questions instead of giving commands. Entry-level employees are probably used to receiving assignments, tasks, and delegated work. But no one likes being told what to do and how to do it. Rather than commanding your employees to do things, ask them a question to plant the idea.
For example, don't say, "I'd like you to do it this way," say, "Do you think it's a good idea if we do it this way?" This encourages your entry-level employees to take matters into their own hands.
If you manage your entry-level hires well now, you'll end up with a team of engaged, profitable, and team-oriented employees.
Do you have any secrets for managing entry-level employees?
ILYA POZIN is the founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company. He founded his first company, Ciplex, a digital marketing and creative agency catering to small businesses and start-ups, at age 17. @ilyaNeverSleeps