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The art of managing younger employees

On's 'Conversation' blog, Michael Fertik offers some advice on managing and motivating employees in their twenties.

Fertik observes: "Younger people are especially hungry both to learn and to receive affirmation that they are doing a good job. I've found the best ones are generally much more motivated by incremental education and acknowledgement than they are by a modest bump in salary."

He adds: "Of course, the same qualities that make younger colleagues so responsive to the education and praise you offer may also make them susceptible to negative feedback loops, so be mindful of the context into which you toss them."

The author insists that the best managers of younger employees are "people who would otherwise love teaching for a living". He explains that taking the time to explain things and lay out the pros and cons will appeal to junior employees as they "feel the immediate benefits of gaining insight into decision- making processes".

What's more, Fertik says it makes those employees better at their jobs because it teaches them how to think. Regular teaching sessions are an excellent way to school young employees on different parts of the business.

Fertik suggests that small businesses can set up mini-workshops to expose potential stars to various aspects of the company, promising that "early investment of this kind yields payoff fast".

The author also recommends various other ways of getting the best out of young employees:

1) Don't be afraid to throw them into the deep end on their first day.

2) Publicly reward junior team members who are doing well.

3) Ask questions frequently.

4) Younger employees are often shyer than their older counterparts, so encourage them to interact with you as well as others throughout the company.

5) Give them personal attention.

6) Avoid the basic error of creating false reasons for praise.

7) Emphasise long-term rewards, and set a good example.

8) Set very short-term projects.

9) Fire employees who are not performing.

10) For similar reasons, fire toxic employees right away, especially if they are interacting with younger people.

11) Try not to set up A+ 22-year-olds with 28-year-old managers.

12) Wear authority lightly.

Managing And Motivating Employees In Their Twenties
Michael Fertik
The Conversation,


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