So my previous post was about being the youngest person in the room. Well I have also had a few opportunities of managing teams younger than me by a few years. In many ways the take-aways have been similar to the lessons learned from managing more seasoned teams, but there are some key differences as well and that is what I want to highlight today.
- Treat the younger team members with the same respect as the more seasoned members. Yes, they may be first year out of college. Yes, they may be naive in some sense or not know much about your business or industry. But don’t look at them as silly rookies, look at them as a fresh set of eyes, a new perspective to be seen to help your business. Ask for their input and opinions. You will get pleasantly surprised.
- Train, train, train them! Have I said train them yet? You have to set the base line and the expectations. If you don’t set it and they make mistakes or don’t perform up to a certain standard, it is on you, not on them. Invest the time. Even if it is two hours or a day. Training pays off ten fold and is worth every penny and minute invested.
- Ask them what they want to do next. Help them get to the next level whether it is within your department or on your projects or not. Don’t be selfish. Develop your people and help them get to that next level in their career. Employees remember and appreciate that, and you never know if one day you will be working for them.
- Let them teach you something. You are never too old or too experienced to learn. You have the life and hands-on experience, but your young team has the latest from the educational institutions, technology, social media – you name it, they have it. Not to mention the mindset and way of doing business changes from generation to generation. Let them teach you their ways as you teach them yours. You will both win in the end.
- Don’t nag them on how they communicate. They are texters and snap-chatters, they don’t want your voicemails on the weekend. If you want a response, text or email. And don’t nag them for it. You won’t change the approach by nagging. Make it a blended approach and have the conversation early on about your preferred methods of communication. Again, make it a friendly exchange where you know how it is best to get a hold of them to get a fast response and they know how to get a hold of you. This builds mutual rapport, respect and trust between the members and everyone ends up on the same page.
- Be their mentor or help them find one. It’s not all about the next career milestone, it is bigger than that, personal goals and development are important. Help your team members grow personally and professionally by mentoring them. If you are not a good fit (be honest with yourself, this is not about an ego trip, it is about your team), guide them to someone that will help them grow and succeed. This increases your credibility, shows your team that you care about them, and ultimately helps build trust, respect and loyalty.
- Show them how what their do fits into the big picture. This one is huge! Millennials and Gen Z don’t want to do meaningless work. They want to know how pushing a certain button or preparing a certain report contributes to the organizational success. You better have the answers to those questions ready and be prepared to paint the big picture and explain how your team members fit into it. Honestly, your team members don’t want to do meaningless tasks just to look busy. They want to contribute to the vision of the company, add value to the business and do a great job. Ask yourself as a manager, if you can’t explain why the task needs to be performed or how it adds value to the big picture, why are you doing it? This is a great way to do a gradual and logical process improvement. Redundant or meaningless tasks which don’t add value can be eliminated.
No matter what kind of a team you lead, there are opportunities to create great synergy between the members and build a cohesive and productive group of rock stars. There is no cookie cutter approach, but these tips can be mixed and matched to help different members of the teams reach their goals and grow. Happy employees are loyal and productive employees, and ultimately that feeds your bottom line in more than one way.