Q. How can I tell my intern that he/she is talking too much to co-workers or exhibiting unprofessional behavior?

May 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

by the Intern Coach

A. You’ll be doing your interns a big favor by mentoring their business protocol. Most interns are comfortable in college dorm settings or in social situations with peers, but are inexperienced on professional behavior. Here’s are some suggestions to help them adjust to their new environment:

  • Whatever the issue, tactfully discuss it with your intern in private as to not embarrass them in front of co-workers. Preface your talk with a positive comment such as, “You’re off to a good start here,” or, “Your work is excellent, but there’s one way in which you could improve.”
  • Handle each issue separately. For example, if your intern is spending too much time talking to co-workers, explain that everyone enjoys talking to them, but too much talk is distracting and cuts into completing work on time. Suggest that your intern curtail office chat and arrange to continue conversations over lunch or after work. Building a social network is usually done off the company time clock.
  • Reinforce the idea that your intern has your support, creating a bond between yourself and your intern. Your intern will take well to your comments if he or she feels that you are trying to help them be more successful.
  • If your intern has a questionable habit, like loudly chewing gum or patting everyone on the back, or makes inappropriate office jokes, point out the intern’s errors. If possible, use the company rules and regulations handbook to support your comments, which will take the pressure off of you. The handbook takes the sting out of your constructive criticism because it relies on pointing on the standards for everyone.
  • When you try to restructure a negative behavior, make sure you balance your comments with statements on the intern’s positive behavior. And please don’t ask a co-worker to correct an intern’s inappropriate behavior. You’re the best person to resolve this sensitive problem.

Entry filed under: intern management, Intern Training. Tags: , , , .

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This blog is dedicated to employers with a focus on how to hire and manage interns effectively. We will have a variety of experts who will share helpful ideas, tips and more. We invite you to comment, ask questions and share your experiences. You are also welcome to submit written contributions to this blog.

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