The workforce is getting younger, which means younger employees are being promoted or hired into leadership roles more often. The youth was usually equated with inexperience; however, that is not the case anymore. Younger managers out there need to listen up because this one’s for you.
Putting you into a leadership role was a long time coming and not everyone is happy about it. You were elevated because you possess fresh energy and a new perspective, however, you will face issues connecting with your teams consisting of employees older than you.
Nevertheless, as a younger manager, there are questions that need answers. You need to command the respect of the team and then lead them to victory but there are things in your way. Here are four questions you may ask yourself (and paths to answers) when it is your turn to drive.
Is my age an issue?
Age doesn’t tell your entire story and your lack of facial wrinkles doesn’t mean you are any less qualified to be a manager. Just have confidence in your abilities because any insecurity you have about your age is all in your head. Don’t fall victim to trying to prove something to the team.
Do I have credibility as a manager?
You may or you may not—it has to be earned. Because age (or lack of) is a big factor, therein lays the perception of whether you “deserve” to be the leader. Typically being older meant you get seniority—that tradition is changing in recent years—about 34% of employees report having a younger boss, according to CareerBuilder. Work WITH your older team. You need to earn their respect and credibility by showing the team you have something to offer them besides fresh energy.
Will I be able to communicate with them?
Communicating with your team means listening more and talking less. You’re a leader in the making. You’re still learning as a young manager. Focus on accomplishing larger and more strategic goals for your organization. Communicate that you need help from your team and work with them to get things done. Don’t throw big titles and irrelevant words around to show you’re the boss.
Can I change the status quo?
One day you can and that should be your goal. The status quo sucks because people will defend it to the death (of their organization) out of stubbornness. Yesterday’s business trends block today’s success. You’re not effectively leading anyone to be better. You’ll need to illustrate maturity in reasoning a positive and targeted change and not remain stagnant.
Your team is your team no matter your age, though as a younger manager, you will face a specific set of challenges. The need to assert yourself is not as important as recognizing the issues ahead and bridging gaps to build trust and credibility, and then you can make the changes that will benefit your organization. Buck up buttercup because it’s your show now.
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