How To Motivate And Manage Entry Level Employees

Managing other people isn't easy—and managing those new to your industry or to the workforce carries a unique set of challenges. Special care and effort is required to supervise and motivate entry-level employees, setting them up for success. The goal is to ensure these beginners stick with your company long enough to become the managers of tomorrow’s new hires.

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Tips for Success with Entry-Level Employees

1. Keep An Open Mind When It Comes To Generational Differences

First things first: Entry-level employees are not necessarily Millennials. You could be managing someone beginning a second career or a former stay-at-home parent reentering the workforce. While such individuals might lack experience in your field, they will bring maturity and an understanding of general workplace culture to your office.

That said: Most entry-level employees entering professional positions will be in their early twenties. It can be tempting to gripe about Millennials and their successors in Generation Z—who are just starting to enter the workforce—they’re entitled, don’t want to pay their dues, can’t commit to anything… But try to remember these sweeping negative generalizations are accompanied by a lesser-known set of positive stereotypes: Millennials are known for their commitment to the social good and the desire for workplace collaboration, and members of Generation Z are flexible, adaptable, and motivated by communication and connection. Think of how irritating it was when your elders complained about your generation. Remember when everyone in Gen X was labeled a slacker? Or when Baby Boomers were considered too individualistic? Recalling these unfair stereotypes and generalizations can help you take a deep breath when undesirable traits appear.

2. Provide Regular Informal Feedback

No matter how talented entry-level employees are, they’re still new—not only to your company but possibly to the workplace in general. Help them transition from student to established employee by providing regular informal feedback. Casual check-ins and an open-door policy will help these less-experienced staff members feel supported—knowing what’s going on can also give you peace of mind that their work is being completed correctly.

Of course, you need to strike a balance. You’re not the managerial equivalent of a helicopter parent—employees at any level need to be able to stand on their own two feet—but recognize and Be prepared to answer questions about business processes, workplace culture, the industry at large, and more (all of the things you had questions about when you were new to the workforce). As you continue to work with the new employee, you’ll build trust, and the time you spend answering routine questions should gradually transition to mentoring and coaching.

3. Recognize Their Need For "Why"

In a world where transparency is highly valued and information is constantly available, employees at all levels increasingly want to know how their assigned tasks fit into the bigger picture. Providing context for their work and connecting it to your team or department goals allows them to see the importance of the duties they’ve been assigned as well as connect to your company’s mission. Starting with “why” might be particularly helpful with traditional entry-level employees; explaining why support tasks are essential can help someone new to the workforce understand why their work has value and importance.

4. Acknowledge Their Contributions To The Team

Again, entry-level employees have likely just completed time as students, and their entire support network—parents, teachers, counselors—was committed to their success. It can be difficult for employees fresh out of college to understand your focus is the company's success. Help them pivot by acknowledging how they’re helping meet team and department goals. Nothing is more motivating in the workplace than a sense of ownership.

5. Be Patient

Whether you're being asked obvious questions with common sense answers or guiding junior team members through the intricacies of workplace culture, remember you were new once too, and someone had to take the time to show you the ropes. Be patient, and when you’re frustrated, consider whether the source of your annoyance is simply a green mistake that time and experience will fix or an actual performance issue.

Don’t allow your irritation over beginner missteps blind you to potential. Remember you were new at one point, and think of how much it meant when someone took the time to really explain process and train you properly—if you never had that, think of how much it would have helped! Consider this an exciting opportunity to help teach a new worker how to be exactly the kind of employee you need.

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