I guess we were all newbies in a career world at one point. But one thing noticeable as time goes on is that the age gap between my spouse/business partner and me and our new hires gets larger, meaning they seem younger. Though most of our employees have at least a college degree, they come to us with little practical experience. Their inexperience in things like traveling, packing, work place etiquette, etc. has necessitated a comprehensive training program and set of company policies. And, it can be very frustrating to have to train employees on what seem like obvious issues – recently, it has included “No, it is not appropriate for you to do your job while listening to music on the headphones connected to your iPhone,” and, “You should not be texting your friends all throughout the work day; we are paying you to work, not text.”
I’ve been asked many times, “do you have kids?” My response is, “no, but I have employees.” And, just as there are bad and good aspects of raising children, this is also true of “raising employees.” Despite these frustrations, it is often rewarding providing experiences to the inexperienced. We have taken employees on their first flight and to see snow for the first time when going to Washington, D.C. for a mock trial. And, their first subway ride on a case in New York. We’ve introduced employees to dim sum, Indian food, and many other ethnic food treats that they had never experienced. This part of hiring inexperienced kids is fun – to see them become experienced. And, to see some go on to graduate or law school is as wonderful as the kids leaving the nest.
My partner and I have been thanked by the parents of numerous employees for helping “little Johnny” or “little Susie” grow up. We have been quasi parents to many young people; most of our employees are hired with Bachelor’s degrees in psychology soon after their graduation. Future blogs will contain specific comments on nurturing new employees, but the present topic is a general musing on this topic. Growing a new employee, at the age of 22 to 25, is both challenging and rewarding. The job we have for them to do is demanding and requires considerable intelligence and effort. Training young, inexperienced employees about the ways of the world is an eye opening experience and one I never considered as part of my job as a Ph.D. psychologist and trial consultant. We have to tell the new employees to exchange their school days back pack for a “big people” briefcase, so that our clients will not perceive their youth in negative ways. We have to show the new employees how to interact with the airport sky cap, the hotel bell man, and all sorts of people who help us in the performance of our jobs. Basic etiquette is also something these “kids” learn from us, including respect for my partner and me because of our age, our education and other achievements, and primarily, because we are their bosses. The older I get, the more I wonder if it is worth it, but so far, the answer is “absolutely!”