ray-mattes_headshot2I would like to share a couple of thoughts when looking to hire holiday help, particularly the hiring of teenagers. Hiring teenagers provides an incredible work experience for our youth. It teaches responsibility, accountability and work-life balance. I know as a youth I had a morning paper route for four years, worked at the Riverview Theater as an usher and then worked at Sullivan’s Men’s Clothing store all the way through two years of college.

The experiences still follow me today and the work ethic is something that I have always endured.

Here are a couple of tips when managing today’s teenage employees.

  1. Strive to recruit from your current customer base, pick kids that you think will have great attitudes and have shown interest in your store. Check with teachers, coaches, scout leaders etc for references.
  2. Utilize social media to advertise for open positions, also use the site to check out an applicant’s profile. You can learn a lot about an individual on what he or she posts on their timeline.
  3. When interviewing, set clear expectations and consistent goals. Go into great depth on describing all aspects of the job; hours, punctuality, scheduling, inventory stocking, cleaning, how to work with customers, the general do’s and don’ts.
  4. Supervise closely, teens typically have short attention spans and sometimes shy away from boring routine duties. Reinforce directives, follow-up on assignments and repeat instructions.
  5. Communicate by building a positive working relationship. Sometimes our young people feel intimidated and do not feel comfortable asking questions. Don’t talk down, be positive with clear instruction.
  6. Use constructive criticism with corrective measures, avoid being overly critical. Reward positive rather than criticize negative. Build up their selfesteem.
  7. Cross train to avoid boredom thereby creating a culture of teamwork. Team them up with a seasoned employee to help with mentoring and coaching.
  8. Add responsibilities by rewarding a teen when a job has been completed in an excellent manner. Don’t be afraid to change a title as a form of motivation. Team Leader, Team Captain, etc.
  9. Take time to coach and cheer them on. Remember teens are in the cross roads of maturity, sure they are sometimes going to display childish behaviors but they want to be treated as an adult. Remember you are more than an employer you are a teacher.
  10. Bottom-line, get them to understand that the customer always comes first.

As a former basketball and baseball coach for over 30 years, working with our youth is an investment in our future. It can be mutually rewarding and something each of you will look back on fondly. I sometimes hear us old folks complain about entitlement, participation trophies and lack of a work ethic.

What better way to prepare for the future than by taking a teen under our wing and molding them into productive individuals while bettering society as a whole, it’s a WIN-WIN!