3 Simple Tips to Dealing with Difficult Adolescent Employees

So what is an Adolescent?

They are difficult, pigheaded, eye rolling, under breathed back talking, trash tweeting employees.  Many times they may refuse to complete a task to its fullest potential, or they may even just skip out on it altogether.  Perhaps punctuality is not above taking the time to pose for the perfect snapchat, or instagram photo on their list of priorities. They must tell all their friends can know just how miserable they feel about heading to work, or write public blogs bashing the intelligence of their customers in order to build their own esteem.  We have all been adolsecents but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, we didn’t even understand ourselves back then.

Adolescents lasts in most young adults until they are 24.  

Before you can manage them you have to take the time to understand them.  They are seeking out who they are.  They’re identity is so lost they become incredibly self-involved.  Wether they are conscious of it or not they long for structure and answers.  They are bored with the job not only because they are difficult, work is just taking up time when they could be out discovering new exciting experiences.

How You May Be Handling your Adolescent Staff


  • Many times your gut reaction is to bang your head against the wall.  This is fine, please do so with caution, and out of sight (they can smell weakness).  Most days you want to scream at them, or strangle them.  This is not fine, please never do this.
  • Writing the staff members up doesn’t seem to do anything, in fact you’ve used that play so much that the discipline report has lost its affect.
  • You find yourself being the micro-manager or “hover” manager you yourself hate.  And this has just seemed to demotivate them further as now they spend their time expressing their annoyance of you.
  • You are writing them off as a lost cause after giving up the long battle and just hoping they go away.  As a manager, wouldn’t you prefer to make a difference in their life by allowing the job to give them some self-fulfillment?

Effective Brainstorming Points To Help You With Your Adolescent Staff


  1. Adolescents respond to respect.  They have “experience” and great “wisdom” far superior to yours, and you just need to accept that.  Open store decisions up to your staff, give them a taste of choice.  At meetings ask them for input on how they want certain policies handled.  When a staff member is included in the decisions that directly effects them they will feel a part of the store and its policies which as a result motivates them to care about the store and its policies.
    • Example:  “Team, our check-in/Check-out errors are out of control this quarter.  How do we want to handle this, I’m open to suggestion.  I was thinking for everyone that has no clock in clock out errors for the week they get entered in a raffle for a Starbucks gift card, or perhaps I could charge you a dollar for each adjustment.  What are your ideas?”
  2. Adolescents need to feel empowered. Give your employees important responsibilities.  Don’t be a hero, don’t hoard all the work due to your lack of trust in your employees.  Give your employees individual responsibilities.  When you assign a task let them know it is important or vital and how it will better the store.  Be sure to always follow up, let them know how great they did or where they could use improvement.  These are the fundamentals of management.
    • Example: To give employees a sense of power, give them literal power.  Assign each employee a unique mini-department.  Place them in charge in the upkeep, stock, and/or merchandising of this department.  Meet with the employees weekly to discuss the progress of their department.  To see more ways to utilize this strategy click here.
  3. Adolescents need an advocate.  They are so hard on themselves, and so insecure through all of life changes that they need personal affirmation that what they are doing is good.  One on One FaceTime will not only help employees with communication of professional issues or struggles, it will also offer you the opportunity to let them know what they are doing right.
    • Take the time at least once a month to sit with your staff members individually.  Use this time to go over their stats, and show them what their stats say about them.  Show them their growth they have shown as an employee and your personal expectations for them further.  Record their own personal thoughts or goals for your personal records and come up with a collaborative game plan for achievement.  For more communication tips click here.


  • Are you a manager with difficult employees?  What is or is not working for you?
  • Are you an adolescent who does not have an enriching work environment?  What can you do to find motivation and growth?
  • Any parents out there with advice?

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