Seriously, I did not want to fire your child. But I did.
It was painful every time. Every single time. But I had to do it.
As an employer, I hired many young adults who were experiencing their first job after college. During my tenure managing our Congressman’s district office, I hired the best and the brightest college graduates.
Steve was also an employer. He ran an Inc. 500 company of 300 employees. He also hired the best and the brightest.
But on any given day, we had to fire those who washed out even though they were smart and talented. They looked great on paper, but their work ethic was way below par. They had no idea how to perform on a job. Many had relied on their parents to do everything for them. Many simply did not have the desire to show up for work day after day.
To accept a mediocre performance by a young employee was not doing them any favors. I knew if they did not change their pattern of behavior they would lose one job after another. Each and every time I did it, I tried to turn it into a learning experience for the person, so they would not continue to make the same error over and over again.
Some eventually appreciated this learning experience. Many never did.
Steve and I were talking about this one day. Steve shared that the number one thing he looked for in an employee was “someone who would do what they said they were going to do, when they said they would do it.”
I just looked for someone who would show up every single day, on time, ready to work. If they showed up, I could teach them how to do the job, but if they had constant excuses and high absenteeism, I did not need them.
So, what does this have to do with your high school student headed for college?
Your child needs to develop a work ethic in high school. Watching you work is the best way (leading by example). So is working with them on projects, requiring them to have summer jobs, and teaching them to balance work and play.
Parents can, and should, starting doing these things during the high school years so they will be prepared for college and—one day—work and family. Balancing the demands of life is a crucial life skill our children need to be successful.
As employers, Steve and I can tell you this is WAY more important than GPA or what college your child attends!
Steve and I recently published a short, simple book that gives parents a checklist of everything your child needs to learn in high school to prepare them for independent living starting in college. It’s called Real Simple College Survival Skills, and you can find out about it here.
It’s short, simple and just $7, but it will be THE BEST INVESTMENT in your child’s college education you will ever make.
Here’s a section of the book on Top 5 business tips parents can implement during the High School Years that will prepare their kids for college and work:
#5 Hold them accountable. Whether it’s looking after their own car, setting an alarm and getting to school on time or facing the consequences of a speeding ticket, holding our kids accountable in high school and allowing them to suffer the consequences of their own actions is the very best gift we can give our kids. In high school the stakes aren’t as high. Feeling the pain of bad decisions in high school will lessen the possibility of experiencing bad decisions in college. Unfortunately, pain is so often our best teacher.
#4 Have them look into summer internships. Internships, work-study programs, and summer jobs are vitally important to discovering what they will want to do or not do in the future and will ease them into learning to manage their time when they get to college.
#3 Sit down with them and create a budget. Every student needs to learn to spend money properly and live within a budget. No exceptions! Create a hypothetical budget for after college to demonstrate how their career choice will affect their quality of life.
#2 Develop a work ethic. Find physical projects to work on with your kids. Paint a building. Volunteer at a non-profit. Adopt a stream. Make them sweat and understand what hard work and completing a task means.
#1 Encourage them to talk to adults without your involvement. High School is a great place for kids to learn to speak to their teachers and seek out their own career guidance. Now’s the time for them to start speaking comfortably with adults as they learn to speak up for themselves and solve their own issues.