self-esteem by telling them what they are
doing well,” advises Lenty.
6. Communicate. A teen may be
reluctant to ask questions or clarify instructions. Build a positive working relationship
by communicating clearly. Don’t talk down to
teens or treat them as children.
7. Cross-train. Teens will likely have
other commitments, such as school, which
will affect their availability. To prepare for a
high absenteeism rate, train all employees in
every task in your operation. Cross-training
helps build teamwork, a sense of responsibility and loyalty, and reduces friction.
Teens at work
8. Vary tasks and motivate by
adding more responsibilities or
conferring a title. You may be surprised by your teen employees’ performance
when you entrust them with more responsibility. For example, a teenager who aspires to
be a Web designer can help with your website or social media. Teens like to deal with
customers and can become good salespeople. Teen salespeople bring in friends and
9. Take time to coach. The teen
worker sometimes acts like a child but wants
to be treated as an adult. You are more than
an employer—you’re also a teacher. “The biggest challenge in managing teens is getting
them to understand that the customer comes
first,” observes Lenty.
10. Cheer them on. Working with
teenagers can be a mutually beneficial experience—a manager with a positive attitude will
gain the respect and cooperation needed
from teen workers and gain valuable team
Ten tips for managing teen employees
By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
CHANCES ARE ONE in five that the next
employee you hire will be the workplace
enigma known as a teenager. These 10 simple
guidelines will help you, and other small-business owners, get the most out of your
1. Scout talent. Recruit from your
frequent customers. Costco customer Josh
Lenty, co-owner of Nampa RollerDrome
Skating Rink in Nampa, Idaho, notes, “Most
kids who come here envision working for us.
We pick teenagers that we think will be great
employees based on their attitude.” Ask for
referrals from high school faculty, coaches,
current customers and current employees.
2. Utilize social media. Use
Facebook and other sites to check out an
applicant’s profile. You can learn about an
employee’s attitudes from what he or she posts
on his or her timeline and can determine
whether the teen you are considering is a serious person or a rowdy partyer.
3. Set clear expectations and
consistent, attainable goals. Define
all aspects of the job, including punctuality,
scheduling and how to work with customers.
Make sure the teens also know what you don’t
want them to do on the job, such as texting,
talking on the phone and chatting with
friends who stop by. Make expectations,
requirements and milestones clear, and be
consistent with rewards or consequences.
4. Supervise closely. Teens resist
routine tasks and often have short attention
spans. Reinforce directives, follow up on
assignments and repeat instructions frequently. “Teens are distracted easily by cell-phones, computers, etc.,” says Nampa
RollerDrome’s Lenty. “We have checklists and
an employee manual that states exactly what
is expected of them.”
5. Criticize constructively. Avoid
being overly critical. Reward the positive
rather than criticize the negative. “Build their
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a freelance
writer, speaker, recruiter and career coach.
You can reach her at
; U.S. Department of
; Youth Rules!: www.