By Ryan Healy – I want to work, I want to grow and I want to learn. What I’d really like is challenging, fascinating projects and the perfect mentor. The typical entry-level job doesn’t always allow this to happen. Below are a few simple ways to keep me interested and motivated.

1. Be Spontaneous
You don’t have to make any drastic changes. Something as small as going out for a long lunch with a few co workers could be enough to keep me from going insane in my cubicle. If you want to get a little crazy, tell me to go home at 1pm every once in a while – and really mean it. If I think you don’t really mean it, I won’t use it. Even holding a scheduled meeting in a different location, like a local coffee shop or deli can throw a wrench in the status quo.

2 Give me feedback
I love feedback. In fact, I need fairly consistent feedback and encouragement to know if I am performing up to par or not. And bring on the criticism. In fact, if I know that I’m not doing something right I will ask you how to improve, so be prepared to give me some guidance as well. Further, if I exceed your expectations on something please let me know. This won’t go to my head and I won’t think I am overqualified for the job, I just need an idea of what is expected from me.

3. Ask for feedback
I understand that a lower level employee does not typically openly critique their superiors, but why shouldn’t we? We are the ones who see your management style first hand and know what works and what doesn’t. The key to this one is providing an open, knowledge sharing atmosphere where no one will take offense or belittle anyone else.

If a manager makes it clear to me that they want honest feedback about their performance, I have no problem giving both positive feedback and constructive criticism. The normal performance evaluation gives the impression that you are the teacher and I am being graded. A two way performance evaluation will greatly increase communication and allow for a more engaged relationship.

4. An Optional Reward System
Sometimes a minimal percentage raise is not the most exciting reward for someone who will probably just put it toward their massive college loan debt or next week’s happy hour. A bonus is a more exciting performance reward for me, but an optional performance reward system would be a great way to keep me motivated.

For a twenty-two-year-old, an extra few days of vacation time is a lot more exciting then a small percentage raise that is barely noticeable after taxes. Other options might include extra flex time or occasionally working from home. I’m sure if you asked your twentysomething about possible performance rewards they would come back with a page full of options the very next day.

5. Keep me in the loop
Not having any idea about major business events on the horizon can be really frustrating. I realize there is often confidential information that needs to stay in the hands of upper management, but I want to understand where I fit in. For example, if I’m on the iMac team then it’s fine if you don’t tell me about the iPhone. But if you want me to do work on the iPhone, you have to tell explain to me what I’m working on. If you don’t trust me to keep confidential information confidential, you should fire me.

What makes business fun is seeing how management operates and executes on its strategies. I like hearing what you are working on and thinking about. Not only will this keep me interested and motivated, but it’s a great learning experience for someone who will eventually be in a management position. Also, I like to have some input. You probably won’t take my advice, but hearing a different perspective can’t hurt.

6. Be my friend
Don’t worry I don’t want to be your drinking buddy, and I’m not going to tell you my deepest, darkest secrets. But a little friendly interaction goes a long way. This could mean talking sports for a few minutes in the office or going out for a quick lunch and discussing both work related and non-work-related issues.

I have an excellent relationship with my manager right now. Not only do we get along in the office, but we play in a non-work-related basketball league together. This has created an actual friendship that doesn’t always revolve around work. And it transfers over to the job by creating a loyalty to my manager that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

7. It doesn’t hurt to smile
I can’t think of anything that would turn me off more than a manager who comes in every day with a scowl on their face, looking like they can’t wait to go home. If I have any plans of staying with the company, then most likely my goal will be to move up the ranks and take over my manager’s position.

If I see that this person does not enjoy what they are doing, then why would I want to stick around to take over that position? Obviously, I can make up my own mind about whether or not a job is a good fit for me, but dealing with a disgruntled manager every day will send me running for the exits. Be positive and at least pretend you enjoy your job.

If you don’t think these techniques will work, go ahead and ask your twentysomething what they think, I bet you will get some good feedback.