We’ve all been teenagers, but as we age we forget how to connect with young people. We think that we can just tell them what to do and they’ll do it. Wouldn’t that be great?
As a manager you also need to play to teenager's Superpowers, so they feel powerful and enjoy what they do. When you help them discover what they are good at they will be more willing to give you their full effort.
Most teenagers are a different kind of human until they get a few years of work experience or college under their belts. They think differently and feel differently than adults do. Try to remember when you were young and you had hormones pushing through you and all you could do was think about sex. That’s the first trick.
1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
When you can put yourself in their position you can learn how to motivate teenagers. Teenagers may be weird, but they have emotions just like you and me. They’re just a little more intense. When dealing with a teenager make sure you are sympathetic to their needs. Make sure you see #4 Don’t Be a Push-over because they will take advantage of you if you let them.
2. Show Them Their Mistakes and How to Improve Them
Teenagers don’t pick up on adult concepts as quickly as adults. Well, duh. You will be surprised by how many business owners don’t understand this concept. Teenagers may be geniuses on the computer or multi-tasking, but they learned these things like everything else. When they make a mistake, explain what they did wrong and how they can improve it. This may need to be done a few times before they catch on.
3. Give Them the Respect They Seek
Giving a teenager the respect that he or she deserves will go a long way in earning their trust. Most adults treat teenagers like teenagers when all they want is to be treated like the man or woman that they are trying to be. Talk to them like an adult and they will raise their level of work.
4. Don’t Be a Push-over
A teenager will take two feet when given a foot, so make sure you set boundaries and if they cross them then document it and let them know. If they continue to cross the line then don't be afraid to let them go if they you need to.
5. Enjoy a Good Laugh
There is nothing a teenager likes doing more than enjoying a good laugh. Yes they may be moody, but when a teenager is in a good mood it can be down right infectious to the rest of the staff, so allow them to get excited and have a good time.
6. Listen to Them
Teenagers want to help. They may be selfish, but they aren’t stupid. They can see things that you can’t. Listen to their suggestions. If they give you an idea that won’t work then let them know why and show appreciation for their efforts. If they have a good idea, tell them that you want to hear more and ask them to come up with a plan on how to implement it.
7. Have Patience with Their Learning Curve
Their learning curve is a little steeper than most adults, but their potential is greater too. Once a teenager catches on to a concept they make it their own.
8. Reward Them
The Gen Y generation and younger grew up being rewarded for blowing their nose. They don’t take well to harsh discipline, so when they do something good even without your approval, reward them. Give them an extra hour for lunch or a $20 bonus. Their idea might have saved you hundreds of dollars, so disperse the wealth.
9. Don’t Yell at Them
Teenagers hate to be yelled at. They get enough of that from their parents, teachers, and friends, so speak with an even toned voice when you're upset. Make sure they understand that you never want to see such behavior, but don’t make a scene out of it.
10. Train Your Staff to be Patient
Many retailers employ young people because they are cheap labor and as a result, they are treated as “second class” employees by the rest of the staff. Big mistake. Train your staff to treat them as equals. When the rest of the staff gives them respect they will be more respectful to the customer.
Managing Teenagers Review
Teenagers want to do good work if they are given the right atmosphere in which to do it. They will need a little more attention, but you will find a few gems that make it all worth the effort. Who knows, that one little gem of a teenager might one day help you run your company.
If you are a small business owner you should check out my marketing blog that spawned from Work Happy Now. Super Power Coach has a free 7 lesson e-course called Supercharge Your Marketing that you may want to sign up for to improve your social media marketing.
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Photo courtesy Cavier