Guest post by Sean McPheat:

With more and more graduates finding themselves in a managerial role fresh out of university, it’s interesting to analyse the way that young managers are able to manage and interact with their older team members.

I myself was a young manager, working with a team of much older and more experienced sales people in my role as Head Of Operational Planning at only 21 years old! Half of my team were twice my age and yet I was expected to command the respect of these people who had been in the business longer than I’d been alive – a daunting task to say the very least.

I was with that company for nearly 8 years in the end, and I learnt very quickly how to overcome my fear of being a young manager with a much older team. Here are my top tips on how to manage your team as a young manager – because at the end of the day, age is only a number.

1.    Steer clear of any “Big Boss” talk

Although it might seem like a good idea to start with, acting the big “I Am” with your new team is never a good idea. Whilst you might think you are being authoritative and making your mark in your new role, your team are sure to take an instant disliking to you and are likely to go on the defensive with you from the word go. 

Instead of trying to exert your new power over the team, let your team know that although you are in charge, you see your role as being there to help and support them far more than just bossing them around. Make it clear that you are there to help them do their job better and make it easier for them to achieve their goals.

2.    Get to know your team as individuals

Whilst this rule is paramount for any team leader, getting to know your team as a young manager is especially important to ensure that you can communicate fluently with each of them and to help you learn more about their career motivation within their role.

Not only will this help them to see that you do care about them as individuals, it will also help them to warm to you as a person and allow them to see you as being more than just their boss.

3.    Tap into their knowledge and expertise

Don’t assume that just because you have been given a managerial role in the company that you are the most knowledgeable and experienced person in your team. You can learn so much from your team in terms of their knowledge and understanding of the business, and you can also learn a lot from their past experience with the company.

Your team might have some really valuable ideas about how you can progress and develop your department, and they may not have been given the chance to voice these ideas to their previous manager. Not only will you learn a lot from your team, but you will also ensure that they feel valued in your department and that their opinions do matter to you.

4.    Be confident in your abilities

Although I have recommended against acting the Big Boss with your team, you also can’t afford to act like you have no idea what you are doing and that you are scared to tread on people’s toes. Your company has employed you to manage your team, and you need to demonstrate that you know your stuff and that you are not afraid to actually MANAGE your team.

They will respect you more if they can see that you are confident in your abilities as a manager and that you are not going to shy away from the nitty gritty that is involved in your role.

Author credit:
Founder and MD of international management development firm MTD Training, Sean McPheat is widely regarded as a leading authority on modern day management and leadership. Sean is a bestselling author, and has been recognised for his own business building skills through the British Business Awards and has been featured in the Who’s Who Of Britain’s Business Elite. Click here to follow Sean online.