If there is one thing that would label my 20-something generation, it would have to be the word “rush”. Everything happens at a great speed. We make international orders and receive our products within a couple of days. We post an image and it is instantly shared with our friends in a matter of seconds, and we can connect with anyone by a touch of our electronic devices’ buttons.
When it comes to the workforce, it is no different. Compared to my father’s generation, my generation is entering and assuming managerial roles decades earlier than those before us. And although that is great news for us, that our skills and talents are valued, if we lack training in management, then we are in for a disaster.
Although numerous friends of mine are great at what they do, which led them to assuming prominent roles early in their lives and careers, many do not have a clue about people management, let alone managing departments with big teams, or inspiring them to achieve results.
But management, like leadership, is a skill that is both inherent and can be developed, similar to learning how to drive a car. It is important to look at this challenge as an opportunity for growth and self-development.
So what is some non-conventional advice for 20-something managers who suddenly find themselves leading?
1) Do not follow others’ examples. While some may have had a great productive relationship with their previous managers, it will not be right to copy their exact style, because it might have worked for them but not for you.
There is no one exact formula to managing people. Part of being a good manager is reading people, listening to them and having empathy. Follow what used to work for you before your promotion, as your people skills might be what got you the promotion in the first place. Enhance your skills by using different techniques until you know what works best with your team, and until you develop your own style.
2) Have authority. If you are in your twenties and have more senior people in your department who you are now managing, you may lack confidence, and feel weird to manage them. But not having a strong stand could backfire on you, and you might end up being a pushover. If you started as a pushover, then developed your confidence and authority later on, it might not work because a pattern has already been established and people got used to it.
Stand firm and have authority from day one, even if deep inside you lack confidence.
3) It is OK to ask for help. No one expects you to have it all figured out by the end of your first week. If you are facing issues with your team members or need consultation, reach out to your human resources department, ask them questions and get their feedback on issues that concern you. After all, they are there to offer support and have experience in dealing with issues specifically related to people management. Moreover, read books and articles about management. Ask your friends and colleagues what they admire about their managers, and do not hesitate to ask for tips from managers who led teams for decades.
4) Ask for your team’s feedback. This could be done on a quarterly basis, or during the annual appraisal period. Ask your team members what they thought about you, if there was anything that bothered them, and what are the qualities they admire about you. That way you will demonstrate to your team that you value their input and also learn about your areas of strength and weaknesses.
5) Finally support your team’s growth. Growth in the job is necessary and provides an excellent incentive. When an employee knows that their skills will be developed and they will grow in their career, they will be motivated to excel in their work. Be committed to their learning process, and find innovative ways for them to develop their talents, whether it is by sending them on training courses or rotating their work tasks so that everyone has an overview about what their colleagues are working on.
Leading at a young age is challenging, but learning how to manage people early, and most importantly become committed to them and their development, will benefit you throughout your career
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer. Follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai