Q: I’m going to start managing entry-level professional employees for the first time and want to be sure they have a good start to their career. What should I be considering?
Syl, 49, marketing manager
A: Keys include helping them adapt to the new environment and master their job while providing opportunities for continued growth.
Going into these relationships, start with your inner attitude about your new colleagues. You’re their boss, to be sure. But start with an attitude of respect for the skills and experiences they bring, even though they are new to the professional world.
Avoid traps related to stereotypes of millennials you may have heard or that you may even share. These could damage your relationship before you even begin working together and will certainly limit your success as a leader.
Set clear expectations for performance across task achievement and professionalism. Your new team members will then be able to focus on addressing the right priorities.
Then, if they are not meeting your expectations, you’ll have a starting point for providing corrective feedback.
Find the line between coddling and strictness. Developing your own voice, and knowing when to train, correct, mentor, or coach will help you find the balance in each situation.
If you don’t have skills in all these areas, this will be a development opportunity for you, as well.
Take the time to understand their aspirations. Then you’ll be able to co-create a development plan that moves them in the right direction. If they are not really clear on that yet, then plan ways to give them a variety of experiences so they can see where they may wish to advance in the future.
It’s not a race, so don’t rush it. When needs emerge, or when they’re ready for additional development, line up the right resources to support their goals.
Also, make introductions to people across the organization to help them better understand the company and learn networking.
A word to the new employees: You have responsibility here, too. Do some self-assessment, taking a look at what you bring to the workplace and areas that might be the most challenge. It’s a big change moving from a college setting to the business world.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There will be a lot you can learn through observation, but being willing to ask directly can speed up the acclimation process.
For example, check with co-workers about the unwritten rules and organizational culture.
Balance this with showing initiative on learning the necessary skills. If you’re asked to work on something that is a skill stretch, spend some of your own time gathering information and learning. In this situation, manager and employee need to collaborate.
Use this opportunity to stretch yourself. Be open to growth and set a good example of lifelong learning.
Send your workplace questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at email@example.com.