Over the past 30 years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to supervise young people, new to the workforce. They’ve been interns; part-timers; working a summer job; or were just starting out. Some were dedicated, smart, hard-working, blow-your-socks off good; while some were lazy, incompetent, and stupid. The rest fell between those extremes, mostly towards the good side. Whatever the specific situation, over that time I’ve developed a set of “things your boss wants you to know” for them.
Welcome to your new job! Before you get started, there’s some things you need to know:
1) Your parents love you. They think you’re wonderful and special. They care about your self-esteem, personal growth, and support you wholeheartedly. I’m not your parents, I am your boss. That means that I don’t care about your self-esteem, or your need for personal growth. You’ve been hired to do a job, and I expect you to do it. How well you do it will determine whether I think you’re wonderful and special.
2) Your friends like you. They’re interested in your personal life, talk about it with you, and like hanging out with you. I’m not your friend. I’m not interested in your personal life, beyond how it affects your ability to do your job. I don’t feel like talking about it with you, and I don’t want to hang out with you. Please stop assuming that I do. I’m much more interested in how you plan to do your job.
3) You say that your school has no dress code, your parents don’t care what you wear, and all your friends dress this way? That’s fine when you’re at school, home, or with your friends. This is your workplace. We have a dress code, and yes, we do expect you to follow it. If I’m wearing a tie, it’s not because I love wearing ties. It means I’m expected to wear one on the job. If I have to conform to a dress code, so do you.
4) You believe that work should be fun, exciting, and rewarding? It may surprise you, but so do I. Unfortunately, no job is that 100% of the time. There are always parts of the job that are tedious, boring, time-consuming, or involve a task that is dirty, sweaty, and smelly. This is usually the part you’re going to get. It sucks, but that’s the reason you have a job.
5) You like to sleep in, and take your time lingering over breakfast before getting started in the morning? We have something else in common. Since I don’t get to sleep in during work days or linger over breakfast, and I’m the boss, neither do you.
6) Reality check: I do play favorites. Deal with it. There’s a difference between “fair” and “equal.” I treat people fairly, not equally. That means my willingness to cut you some slack is directly proportional to how well you do your job.
7) My job is to make sure that you do your job, and that you have what you need to do it. If I have to do your job as well as my own, or assign someone else to cover, I’ll save money and headaches by ceasing your employment.