Managing a Newbie

Shawnee Love   •  
March 25, 2014

Young people need someone to take a chance on them or they will never get any experience.  They need to gain that experience to prepare them to step into the shoes vacated by older workers who are retiring and leaving gaping holes behind them.

Even so, I have long advised LoveHR clients to avoid being the first employer.  I am aware that I am risking an accusation of discrimination with that advice, but the companies we work with are smallish. I.e., they don’t have the in-house HR resources needed or the time available for managers to coach and closely supervise.  Let’s face it, most inexperienced workers need handholding and if they don’t get it, they are set up to fail not to mention the potential risks and damage that arise from ill trained employees.

I would argue that for many small organizations, hiring people with experience is a bona fide occupational requirement.  Of course, new workers are often the very people that smaller companies hire, because newbies are generally more “affordable” than their experienced “hit the ground” running colleagues.

While “hirer beware” seems a bit melodramatic, if you are hiring people who are new to the workforce, you must ensure you have the capabilities to give them the training and mentoring they need. Here are a few other things you should know about your newbies:

  • They are young. Young people are supposed to take chances and make mistakes and that includes trying new jobs.  Don’t expect them to stay for 5 years.  In fact, a recent stat from the US Dept of Labour says 18 months is average tenure!
  • Like all generations, they care about career progression, opportunities to learn and be challenged, and good compensation.  And, like all young people when viewed  from an older person’s eyes, they are impatient about how quickly these things come to them.  Since they live in a time when the demand for talent increasingly exceeds the supply, don’t be surprised if they find someone willing to give them what they want if you don’t pony up soon.
  • They want to be managed like individuals and treated like valuable assets. Don’t we all, but young workers don’t have as much tolerance for “this is how we do things here” or “its the rules”.  Being flexible and seeking ways to say yes will serve you well, not only with Gen Y but with all your workers.

The young are your future.  Manage them well.