Even if your products or services are second to none, if your staff isn’t performing, your small business won’t thrive. And if you’re working with co-op students, it’s even more important to ensure they have the appropriate balance of challenges and support in their work. Here are eight tips to get the most out of your newly hired co-op student.
1. Treat Them Like Adults
Yes, they’re students, but that doesn’t mean they’re kids. Most co-op students pursuing higher education are professional, independent and mature individuals. Treat them that way.
2. Explain How They Fit into Your Business
There’s no point in adding people to your team and supplying them with a computer, office space and a salary if you’re not going to explain how they contribute to your overall business goals. The more detailed information they have, the more engaged they’ll feel and the better they’ll perform.
3. Set Detailed Expectations
A key element of managing a team is making sure everybody has the same idea of what success looks like. When an objective is not met or an outcome is not achieved, communication is often to blame. On day one of orientation, sit down with your co-op student to set both expectations and mutually rewarding objectives for their work term.
4. Remember That Growth is an Important Goal
Professional growth is an important part of the co-op experience for students. Consider ways to encourage your student to learn new knowledge and skills that will contribute to their development. Likewise, remember that this is an opportunity to work on your mentoring and coaching abilities.
5. Reward Achievement with Additional Responsibility
If your co-op student is performing well and making an impact, reward them with more than just praise. To help your student get the most out of their work experience, provide them with more to do. Push them with additional responsibility and opportunities so they can reach their full potential.
6. Give Constructive Feedback
How and when feedback is shared between employees and managers will impact workplace relationships, productivity and output. Your co-op student will certainly value approval, but what they’ll appreciate more is practical feedback that they can use to grow and improve professionally.
7. Move Beyond Task Lists
Anyone can complete a to-do list. If you want to inspire your student, involve them in the formulation of micro-projects, elicit their feedback and collaborate to develop their workflow goals.
8. Recognize that Every Student is Unique
Last but not least, no two co-op students are motivated the same way. Everyone has unique needs, desires and aspirations. You’ll get the most out of them by understanding who they are – and what makes them tick – by seeing them as individuals.
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