Judy Panagakos said it best: “Having a cadre of trained talent eager for fresh challenges is essential for a healthy organization.” On top of that, the workforce is now made up of four different generations! Each one matters, including the youngest and most inexperienced. Developing young talent can be challenging to some leaders, which is why we put together these tips for helping your youngest workers grow:
1. Be patient
First and foremost, have patience while helping develop your younger workers. They are likely starting from square one after all, and if it’s their first job, the entire experience comes with added pressure. Since they don’t have the same knowledge base as more experienced employees, avoid setting unrealistic expectations and ease them into earning small wins to build confidence.
2. Give them autonomy
Start your young employees off with smaller, more straightforward assignments rather than large projects. This not only allows the chance to learn from experience from the get-go, it also provides opportunities for quicker feedback on their performance. And if they fail? Let them know that it’s okay and give your advice in the form of a project recap.
3. Customize training
Just as is true for expectation setting, training should also vary based on experience level. Training for 20-something-year-olds should be slower paced and broader, given their minimal experience. Unlike more experienced employees, they don’t have as much context or foundation of knowledge to ground them in their work. When it comes to training, it’s better to “go slow to go fast.”
4. Tune in to strengths and weaknesses
Set your young employees up for success by tuning into their strengths. Start by giving them assignments that are specifically challenging and exciting for them, or offer to help them improve on something new. Suggest a class or partner them with a mentor if needed. When an employee is just getting started in their career, it’s going to be a process to transition them from “school work” to “work work,” so keeping confidence high is important in the early going.
5. Offer feedback
Most twenty-somethings love feedback! Remember, these are digital natives that are accustomed to instant feedback for anything they say or post on social media. So coaching them in the moment, and on a regular basis is key. We also know that positive feedback and recognition fuels employees to redouble their efforts at work.
6. Check in with the rest of the team
Don’t try to evaluate your employee with blinders on, ask the rest of the team how younger workers are doing in their roles. They have likely been observing the employee, especially those working most closely. Team members can identify areas they excelling at and where additional training would be helpful.
7. Spot future leaders
Lastly, keep an eye out for young employees who have potential to grow into leadership roles. A common sign of a future leader is taking ownership of projects and asking for ways to help other team members during their downtime. After they gain enough experience, give them a chance to train new employees or manage a group project. These are great opportunities to see if they are ready to lead other people!
Soon enough, Gen Z and Millennials will make up a large majority of the workforce. It is the job of people leaders today to help them grow into the successful leaders of tomorrow!