Leadership tips for young managers
By Robert Parkinson, Founder of RMG Selection
Manager, a sacred word in business which has connotations of hope and trust, is a very serious job title in the West, where the average age of managers is between 30 and 40 years old. The development of the Internet has changed some traditional industries dramatically in recent years. A senior manager in logistics might be good at managing the whole business process, but does he have any idea about operating a modern overseas warehouse? That is probably an area where his strengths are useless. Nowadays, more of the bright and talented young employees who have required knowledge and skills are promoted to be managers. But excellent as many young leaders are, they usually face a lot of challenges during the first big step up in their career. This article explores some of the pitfalls they may face and suggests some of the better ways of dealing with difficult situations.
Differences in behaviour, before and after promotion:
The purpose of promotion is to recognise an employee’s good performance at work. A young salesman, for instance, can be promoted to be a sales manager who is responsible for the performance of five sales people because of his amazing likability. Clients want to give them business and colleagues enjoy having them as a friend.
However, that doesn’t mean they are the perfect choice for a managerial role. If they used to show up 30 minutes late to work every other day and skulked away once in a while, neither had any negative impact on their sales figures, but it may mean they are not best suited for a managerial position. What do you think team members will do if they see their leader is late for work every day? Naturally they will follow! Therefore, a big difference young managers must make is to correct their own shortcomings and work on being a good example for team members. That is the basis of your credibility!
Dealing with your peers:
The major challenge for many young leaders is the changein relationship with their peer groups. Some think the shoe fits them quite well hence they tend to differentiate from their peers. However, others believe that not losing friendship with their peers is the priority.
Managers should be aware that they are responsible for the performance of others and try to develop a serious working relationship with their peers without letting it affect friendships.
Managinng the unmanageable:
Every manager at some point in their career has the unenviable task of having to deal with the “unmanageable” My advice for young managers is to find out, first and the foremost, why is this team member difficult to manage.
Listen to them! Team management is about communication. If a member of the team doesn’t listen to you and follow your plans, instead of complaining to a senior manager, you should at least try to listen to them first. Listen to their feedback on your plan and also listen to the plan they come up with. A good leader is not one who excels at everything but someone that excels at making the best use of others.
Building personal confidence:
Another problem that young managers face is self-doubt. The voice of doubt normally starts when you have to deal with senior team members. The volume then keeps going up until it plagues your mind. The solution is very simple â stop it!
Focus on the positive sides of decisions that you make. The second step is to balance the negative sides. Thirdly, take time to rest outside of work. Go out with your friends to grab a drink or have a nice dinner. Anything that makes you happy is good for your confidence. The last step is to visit/call someone who can offer good advice. They can be your coaches, mentors, managers etc.
Your first few important decisions are probably made during this process. But that’s OK confidence building doesn’t happen all at once. Understanding this process will help young managers build up confidence gradually. In the meantime, be open to mistakes! It will help you grow as a manager.
Learning to say “no”:
Saying “no” to team members can be difficult. Some ask for casual leave and others ask too many questions. The key is all about the language. In other words, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Most young leaders are afraid to reject their team members because they do not want to damage the relationship. But this is the wrong way to go.
Think about the impact on other team members that watch you agree with everyone’s requests. They might think that you are a nice and easy-going person, but they may also regard you as a weak manager. Learn to reject unnecessary requests with kindness. Either a small talk or a mocking joke can easily let employees know that what they request is not appropriate.
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