If you have a new intern, you probably expect them to feel a bit awkward at first. Have you asked yourself what you can do to put them at ease? As the boss, you can do a lot.
Here are ten tips for helping interns overcome anxiety.
1. Smile and Act Friendly
If you maintain a “strictly business” persona at work, you might want to loosen up a little to make your new intern feel more at ease. A smile says, “I’m happy you are here,” and it can go a long way toward making someone welcome.
Don’t worry if small talk isn’t your forte — you don’t have to layer on charm. However, it helps if you show interest, such as asking about favorite sports teams or how they are settling in if they recently relocated.
2. Go Easy on the Kegerator
You might run a hip, young office with a beer keg on tap. Such perks are becoming more common in the workplace, but you might not want to make too much fuss about your open tap.
Social anxiety is the third most prevalent mental disorder outside of alcoholism and depression. Many folks — including timid interns — might imbibe to ease their self-consciousness and go too far. You can mention this perk, but don’t push them into behavior that could lead to an addictive habit.
3. Provide Ample Instruction
Think back to your first day on the job. You probably didn’t know what you were supposed to do.
Your intern feels the same way. Please provide plenty of instruction, allowing them to ask as many clarifying questions as necessary.
4. Employ the Buddy System
If you run multiple departments — or the whole shebang — you might lack time to devote to intern training. That’s where your other reliable staff members come into play.
Onboarding buddies help by providing the between-the-lines subtext your intern won’t read in your employee handbook. They’ll also boost productivity by increasing the speed at which your new hire becomes competent at daily tasks.
5. Start Them Slow
Imagine walking into school on your first day and having your instructor assign a 10-page paper due at the end of the week. You’d probably burst into overwhelmed tears.
Start your new intern with slow, easy assignments. For example, you might have them start by entering expenses, not completing an entire budget report.
6. But Include Them
However, you want your new intern to feel like an integral part of the team. Please include them on company-wide invitations, such as the one for your next Zoom happy hour event.
Here’s another place where an onboarding buddy comes in handy. Your anxious intern may not feel comfortable attending a live happy hour solo, but a partner will help relax them.
7. Give Gentle Suggestions
Have you ever had a supervisor scream at you in front of the entire office? Even if you did commit a grievous error, it probably didn’t make you feel very good.
Please remember that everyone deserves respect, even when they make mistakes. Instead of barking, “No, no, do it this way,” take a gentler approach. Saying, “this approach saves time and headaches” creates a more receptive response.
8. Sandwich Your Feedback
As a manager, you might resent giving constructive feedback as much as your staff dislikes hearing it. However, an attitude of learning and growing together can go far to increase productivity and make your employees feel at ease.
Try stealing a tip from teachers and sandwiching your feedback. Start by giving positive remarks, then segue to what needs improvement. Finish your conversation by reminding your intern that you’re grateful for their services.
9. Bring Lunch
One of the toughest aspects of any new job is fitting in with the group. Make the transition easier on your new intern by providing lunch for the entire crew. This opportunity gives them the chance to meet everyone at once, and while they might not remember everyone’s names, they will appreciate the chance to mix and mingle with zero pressure.
10. Be Transparent
It is a challenging market out there if you are a job candidate, but you won’t hear much of this dialogue in the mainstream media. Turn to the social variety, and you’ll see how many have struggled with economic insecurity due to wage stagnation for far too long. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the minimum wage would stand at over $23 an hour if adjusted for productivity. People are working longer and harder for less, and they are reaching their breaking point.
You might not pay your interns at all, and that’s fine if you disclosed such in your advertisement. However, please don’t lead them on with promises of salaries and benefits you know will likely never materialize. Be transparent when discussing future opportunities.
Help Your Interns Overcome Anxiety With These Tips
Think back to when you began your first position and how nervous you felt. Help your interns overcome their anxieties with these ten tips.
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