Before the age of 28, Aaron McDaniel had been appointed regional vice president at a Fortune 10 company. He has managed over 100 people and has been responsible for a variety of job functions from business development to network operations. I asked Aaron, who now writes the Young Professional’s Edge blog, for his top tips for how to succeed as a manager who is younger than or the same age as most of your direct reports. Here are some of his key recommendations:
Don’t Readily Reveal Your Age
Don’t make references to college or other things that show your team you are younger than (or the same age as) they are. Instead of describing your experience by highlighting the amount of time you have worked, emphasize the concrete results you have achieved. You will be more likely to be taken seriously.
Set and Maintain Expectations
Especially with a younger manager, people like to see how much they can get away with, so sit down with your team and outline your expectations at the very beginning. It is also important to understand what your team’s expectations are of you.
Be Present and Inclusive
Considering all you have to do, it’s tempting to move into your managerial ivory tower. However, by being physically around your team, you will make your employees feel noticed and valued. It’s particularly important to ask your staff for ideas based on their experience, and then implement these whenever you can. If you have to make a difficult decision that affects everyone, bring the whole team into the conversation.
One of your primary roles is to remove obstacles that are hindering your team from achieving an optimum level of success. The best way to do this is by listening and keeping a pulse on what is going well from your team and what is not. By taking the Jerry Maguire “help me help you” approach, you will be able to fix issues and build positive momentum.
Leverage Your Energy and Ideas
Take advantage of the fact that younger managers tend to bring a higher level of enthusiasm to the job. Leverage your ideas for making work more fun and your team more efficient – the more creative the better!