These Young Managers, Who Do They Think They Are?

“He doesn’t have a lot of experience managing people. Do you think he can do the job?”

I remember being a young manager of a small business.  I was 26 and most of the people working in the company were my senior.  Even though I was qualified for the position I still felt as though I didn’t have the respect that the position required.

This is a tough position for anyone to be in

So I started asking questions to some of my coworkers, and people I was responsible to manage.

Here’s a couple questions:

  • I’m feeling like you don’t listen to my insights when it comes to your project, is there something wrong with our relationship?
  • When I’m talking to you about your work I feel like you’re not listening, and to me it comes off a little disrespectful.  Is everything okay with me as your manager or is there something bothering you about me?

Some of them expressed frustration about being managed by someone so young that didn’t have years of experience.

Were their frustrations grounded? 

How effective are newly appointed managers compared to the older and more seasoned folks they replace?

I assumed veteran managers would prove to be the more effective leaders. But the data surprised me.

Younger leaders are better at six things.

Here’s what we found:

  1. Welcome change. The younger leaders embraced change. They did a great job of marketing their new ideas.

They had the courage to make difficult changes. Possibly their lack of experience caused them to be more optimistic about proposals for change.

It was as if they did not know that changes would be hard to make happen. They possessed the courage to take on significant changes and were more willing to be the champions of change projects.

  1. Inspiring behavior. Younger leaders knew how to get others energized and excited about accomplishing objectives.

They were able to inspire others to high levels of effort and production to a even greater degree than their more experienced counterparts. Their older colleagues tended to more often lead with “push” while they lead with “pull.”

  1. Receptive to Feedback. Young leaders were extremely open to feedback. They more frequently asked for feedback.

They wanted more extensive feedback regarding their performance, and they found ways to both digest and implement the feedback. Older leaders tend to be less willing to ask for and respond to feedback from colleagues.

  1. Continuous Improvement.  It may be the result of the fact that they have less invested in the past, but the younger leaders were more willing to challenge the status quo.

They were constantly looking for innovative ways to accomplish work more efficiently and with higher quality.

  1. Results Focused.  Young leaders will do everything possible to accomplish objectives.

They have a high need for achievement and will put every ounce of energy and effort they have into achieving their goals.

In contrast, when someone has been in an organization for a long period of time, it is easy to become complacent and to see the status-quo as sufficient.

  1. Elevate Goals.  The younger leaders were more willing to set stretch goals.

Some older leaders have learned to sandbag a goal so they don’t have to work too hard or run the risk of falling short of a goal.

Younger leaders were more prone to set stretch goals and inspire their team strive to achieve difficult tasks.

Every organization will need younger managers to fill in the vacancies left by their long-term predecessors. Understanding and leveraging the many strengths of this younger group creates a big opportunity, higher performance, and productivity.

While younger leaders have challenges that will require focused effort and leadership development to overcome, they bring tremendous assets to the organization.

They may likely be one of the most under recognized and under utilized resources in our organizations today.

Thanks for reading,

-Tom

 

Contributors: Thomas Nestor, Forbes, Joseph Folkman