Supervising and Recognizing Entry-level Workers

I received an email this morning from Meghann, who successfully supervises entry level/college students. Since I frequently hear what a difficult demographic this is to motivate, I thought I would share what she has to say, word for word:

Morning Cindy!

My number one piece of “recognition” lately is flexibility. When a hard working staff asks for a day off, to leave early, or to work  a particular shift – I do everything I can to make it work. I let them know why I am willing to bend the rules and work harder for them, and the feedback I get from it is so positive – so it also builds supervisor/staff rapport. In the age of budget cuts, I can’t always give the cash prizes I would love to – but sometimes, lending an ear and some understanding goes much farther!

As always, a heartfelt thank you identifying specific instances where staff rose above the “bare minimum” are also well received. I know I have kept every one that I have gotten over the years!

Lastly, admitting that you aren’t perfect. When there is counseling to be done, let staff know what wasn’t up to par and how they can fix it – but also let them know that mistakes happen. There is an art to delivering warnings that inspires staff to do better in comparison to dragging them through the mud for the concerns you have.

Thanks for your great tips! Even when I am not using the specifics you talk about (as it doesn’t always apply to my team,) it still keeps recognition in the forefront of my mind and my day.

Happy New Year!
-Meghann

Meghann has touched on some critical concepts for supervising younger workers:

1) She has discovered that time off and flexibility make for fantastic rewards. When I surveyed employees regarding the types of rewards they preferred, time off beat out every other category. Note that Meghann also clarifies why she is willing to bend the rules – praise given as an explanation for her behavior. Brilliant!

2) The thank you, particularly the written thank you is something you can hold onto and read over and over. When you are supervising entry-level workers who tend to need frequent encouragement, recognition that they can pull out and read again is a wise investment.

3) Learning how to provide corrective feedback that changes behavior without tearing down the person is a difficult skill to master. Everyone deserves this kind of coaching, younger workers demand it. Meghann seems to have mastered the technique. Maybe we should have her teach a master course!

Anything else you have found that works especially well younger/entry level workers? Add to the conversation!

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