Managing people well is never easy. A good leader needs to have good followers in order to accomplish the mission, whether it be hitting a sales target, completing a project, or capturing new market share.
So, what do you do when those on your team are in their first professional job or are young and inexperienced in general?
Here are some tips for managers to avoid common mistakes many leaders make when managing fresh graduates and other early career professionals.
Not setting expectations and making assumptions
Managers need to realize that although they may manage salaried people with college or post-secondary degrees, that doesn’t automatically mean that these newly minted professionals know what they are doing and how to behave. While some have more experience and more emotional intelligence than others, managers should assume nothing. Setting expectations and letting the employee know what kinds of behavior and norms to follow is critically important. At any age, a new job has a learning curve and it can be bumpy getting up to speed. Make it a point to discuss the young professional’s previous experience and exposure to professional work environments and don’t assume that they will know what is expected of them.
Not addressing communication expectations and the workplace filter
Younger employees (new grads and those with under 5 years of professional experience) have yet to fully develop their workplace filter. We may all know a coworker that has no filter or is the office water cooler gossip, but in general, the transition from the protected university environment is much different than the real world. Orientations and training on professional skills and etiquette is a great first step, but you can’t do “dine and dash” training. After the training, the manager must monitor, coach, and provide real-time feedback when they see behaviors that need correcting.
Not teaching the right material or failing to ask the right questions
Companies s that hire groups of people to fill a key role become part of hiring “classes”. For example, groups of finance and accounting graduates get hired by banks every year to join rotational training programs. Usually, the program leader has experience managing the “youngling” class of analysts but when training is over, they are sent into the field as analysts working for and in support of producing teams of VP’s and relationship bankers with many years of experience. It’s important that these classes are prepared when they begin “real” work.
Complaining or embarrassing the new grad
Managers often complain about their young staff’s errors and the gaffs they make not paying proper attention to detail. CC’ing too many people on emails (or blind copying too often) can be demotivating for young workers. Teach these new college grads the new information they need but don’t harass or harang them about the information they already know. Most times, these new grads don’t need the constant reminder that they’re green. They feel insecure and worried about already. Be the support system they need to be the professional you hired them to be.
Eli Howayeck (MBA, Kellogg School of Management), Founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts, is passionate about helping motivated people achieve their career, educational, or personal goals and helping businesses, large and small, overcome a variety of challenges facing their business.