How Generation Y Managers Can Succeed

Last year, I conducted a study called “Gen Y on the Job” in partnership with PayScale.com. One of our findings was that 15 percent of Gen Y’s are already managers. In order to learn more about how young managers can succeed at work, I spoke to Aaron McDaniel, who just finished a book on the topic called The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing. Aaron is a corporate director and was one of the youngest ever to serve as a Regional Vice President at a Fortune 10 company. You can find more information about Aaron at YPEdge.com. In this interview, he talks about the biggest challenges Gen Y’s face as managers, how they can make the transition and more.

What are the biggest challenges for millennial managers when first starting out? 

The biggest challenge for many millennial managers first starting out is being able to balance the demands of managing a team with their own workload. As a manager, you have to change your scope from being solely concerned with your own work and results, but are also responsible for the results and actions of their entire team. What most new managers don’t realize is that their job isn’t just to monitor their team, but they also are responsible for a large amount of administrative work and other initiatives that they are responsible for doing on their own. STAR managers are able to balance both of these responsibilities. New millennials must realize that it’s about their team and not themselves. Just because you are good at a certain job does not mean that you will be good at managing someone doing the same job.

How do they successfully transition to being a manager from a regular worker? 

When transitioning from individual contributor to manager roles, it is crucial to set expectations with new employees. Many employees will attempt to test you to see how much they can get away with, like we did with substitute teachers as kids. Some new managers think the answer is to be tough and prove to everyone that they are the boss. This is not the best strategy because it stops employees from trusting their new manager. Instead, be clear about what you expect of them, listen to what their expectations are of you and follow through on your commitments.

What happens when a millennial starts to manage an older worker? What should they watch out for?

When millennials start to manage older workers there is a tendency to underestimate how generational differences play out in the workplace. It is natural to assume that people think and like to communicate the same way you do. New managers need to take the time to understand generational differences. While it is natural for us to text an employee about an important task, those from the Baby Boomer generation prefer face-to-face communication. Take the time to learn the differences between each generation and leverage the experience of older employees to avoid pitfalls they may have already experienced. Don’t take the “because I’m the boss” attitude; instead explain the “why” behind certain decisions you make to your employees and get their input ahead of time on things that affect them.

What are the top skills all millennials must develop to become star managers? 

There are 10 Skills that I outline in my book that STAR managers develop. From the ability to hire effectively, empower and recognize employees, build trust and team cultures, there are many skills to develop. Removing obstacles is an often forgotten responsibility of managers and driving results through others is paramount. No matter how nice or smart you are, you will be measured by the results you can get others to achieve. Finally, STAR managers leverage the contingency approach, adapting their management style according to the situation and people involved.

Can you give us some advanced leadership and management strategies they can use? 

There are a number of advanced tactics that STAR managers use to drive consistent top results. One skill is to be able to effectively fire someone. STAR managers are organized and have the proper documentation and evidence as to why the employee deserves to be fired. They gain support from their boss and company HR. Most importantly, STAR managers respect the fact that their employee is in a very vulnerable state and therefore shows them respect by letting them save face. Don’t offer any apologies or excuses, just be up front and honest.

Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. His new book, a New York Times best seller, is called Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press) and his previous book, Me 2.0, was a #1 international bestseller.

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