What's your problem?

We often take on work experience students - there's always one knocking around the office, and they always get landed on me.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Don't get me wrong: I think it's laudable to have young people in the office to help out, but from my experience, they're usually time-wasting tykes who don't know the meaning of hard work. In fact, all they do is create work for me. What can I do?

A: I wonder why they always get landed on you? I suspect it's because you always agree to take them on, then silently mutter about their sloth and incompetence but do nothing much about it.

You need to plan a work schedule for a student as carefully as for a real employee. Let them know on their first day exactly what's expected of them, and pull them up sharp if they fail to deliver. But don't just give them the drudgy, mind-numbing bits to do; give them at least one project that engages their brain and invites a real contribution. Praise them when they do well. And make sure that the time you invest is more than compensated for by the time you save through delegation.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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