Developing entry-level employees
February 22, 2015 4:15 AM   Subscribe

Looking for resources on developing entry-level/graduate employees.

In my department there are 6 people. I am nominally the 'number 2' in my department - nominally in that I am supposed to involved with the supervision and development of the team but in reality my manager is only willing to do things their way.

We have 2 junior employees both of whom are performing poorly and not developing. My manager's only response to this is to say that they need more time (one of them has been with the company for nearly 2 years now) - the HR manager is also of the same opinion.
Part of the issue seems to be management's inability to deal with Millenials/Generation Y.

When compared to similar employees at competitors/in the industry these 2 employees are clearly behind the level that they would be expected to be at.

My manager is of the opinion that they know better because they are a manager and I am not. So I would like to do some reading to demonstrate that I have researched the topic.

Can fellow MeFi users:
- recommend books/resources on how to develop entry-level employees and get them to understand/buy-in to why they need to up their performance levels
- talk about what you have done to deal with similar issues in your own career
posted by Metaphysics to Work & Money (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be relevant to your situation, as it's rather industry-specific, but I read this article on pair programming with junior developers yesterday, and it really resonated with me (as a developing junior dev).
posted by daisyk at 4:26 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can you determine at all if their under performance is due to lack of skills/training, or Just Fucking Lazy (unwilling to work through problems on their own or put in continuous effort)?
posted by anaelith at 6:19 AM on February 22, 2015

Erm, if both your manager and the HR person think it's fine, why are you so gung-ho to Fix these employees? I would either forget about it and focus on other things, or look for a different work place where the culture would foster your propensity to try to "develop" junior employees.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 6:24 AM on February 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

anaelith - both :(

mysterious_stranger - because their constant mistakes end up on my desk to fix or explain to them again (sometimes the person giving them the work has explained it to them incorrectly).

I am planning to leave but can't for other reasons for probably the next 6 months.
posted by Metaphysics at 7:10 AM on February 22, 2015

I am planning to leave but can't for other reasons for probably the next 6 months.

If you could implement changes to get these guys up to speed on Monday they will only just start to bear fruit in six months - assuming they work…because some people go to great length to resist training.

And it doesn't sound as if you'll get anybody to let you change anything for a while. So why waste time and energy and mental bandwidth trying to get your boss and HR to change their views, when you could just focus on finding a new job and perhaps get out of there sooner?
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:48 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd focus on leaving this place and becoming a #1 someplace else. If anything you can spend the next 6mos cultivating these juniors to figure out whether either of them would be worth taking with you.
posted by rhizome at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2015

Agreed with the above; cut your losses. If these folks haven't developed in two years, the odds of you implementing some quick fix that develops them inside of six months are slim.

What's more, if your manager thinks (s)he knows everything simply because (s)he is the manager, you're risking quite a bit to try to teach your manager they're wrong.

Keep your head down, be the model employee (as far as your boss is concerned) and let the company reap the fruits of failing to develop their junior employees after you've gone.

Look for ways to treat the symptoms (work being done poorly and ending up on your desk, etc). You (hopefully) won't be around long enough to cure the disease.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2015

Step one is deciding if this is a performance (i.e., can't do it) problem, or if it's a conduct problem (won't do it, or won't do what it takes to get able to). If you choose wrong, your efforts to fix it will be ineffective.

BUT: Step zero in a discipline/performance problem is to determine if anyone cares. If the answer is no, don't bother. If your boss won't have your back, nothing you do will work. Nothing. Their behavior is de facto ok. Sorry.
posted by ctmf at 1:31 PM on February 22, 2015

So I guess what I'm saying is that you don't need to convince your boss how to get them better, millennial-generation-touchy-feely-bullshit or no. You need to convince your boss to expect more out of them than they currently do. Comparisons to other similar companies, previous employees in the same company, that kind of thing.

Because "they just need more time" means your managers don't expect them to be any good right now and that's ok with them. What I would do is get a date. When, then, do you expect them to be a fully-performing employee? Because once you have that, you can estimate if they're going to make it or not. If there's a gap there, then you can suggest applying your fixes.
posted by ctmf at 1:49 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Metaphysics: "Looking for resources on developing entry-level/graduate employees.

Much of this thread is going to be role specific, and situation specific. I'll answer your questions in a moment, but I want to push back on them first. Why is the junior employee performance your problem? Are they included in your SMART goals somehow? If not, are you already exceeding expectations? Since your boss and you disagree on the nature of your job, I suspect you don't have any goals at all, in which case the problem is wider than two lazy Millennials in need of punishment. Focus on your own career first!

But lets say you are responsible for the team's output. Now what?

- recommend books/resources on how to develop entry-level employees and get them to understand/buy-in to why they need to up their performance levels"

Someone once recommended Manager Tools podcast to me, and it's a decent show for first time supervisor / managers. There's a huge backlog to go through, but the 'Holy Trinity' they regularly allude to are:

1. one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports. 10 for them to talk to you, 10 for you to talk to them, and 10 to talk about the future. This is where you might set a direct's personal goal regarding the amount of rework done, or the amount of work done period.

2. Immediate feedback, where you personally reinforce good and bad behaviors of your directs. "When you do A, benefits B and C accrue to the company. Keep up the good work!" and "Please don't do X again, because Y and Z consequences." are examples of requests for behavior change.

3. Coaching your directs on getting better at specific things over a period of months. Notably, they don't recommend you spending your limited time coaching poor performers.

- talk about what you have done to deal with similar issues in your own career

I supervise about 6-12 student employees, most of whom are millenials. It's true that they're more likely to obsess over smartphone updates, but it's really no different than Blackberries and email popups for the older set. Or cigarette breaks, etc.

What I've done so far is divide the group into five teams and set five team goals.
posted by pwnguin at 4:33 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

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