Some of the individuals inside my company that I have been coaching are first-time managers that are trying to figure out how to be the best manager they can be. A lot of them express concerns over being a “young” manager and are worried that because the people they manage are sometimes only a year younger, how can they gain their respect? I’ve had so many conversations about this topic, and love when my coachee walks out of the conversation feeling more comfortable as a manger. Given how many times I’ve gotten this question and talked this through with newer managers, I wanted to share four ways to establish yourself as a strong manager early in your career:
- Understand age has no bearing on being a good manager
I’ve mentioned this before in my blog, but we are almost always our own biggest critic. We often view ourselves as not as good or less experienced then others view us especially if we tend to look younger in appearance. When I ask people, what makes a good manager, I often hear things like being a good leader, communicating well, being well-organized, knowing when to delegate or not, and understanding how to treat people well. None of those areas have anything to do with how much experience someone has in the working world comparative to others. I will sometimes hear people say they lack experience to be a good manager, but I would question that by saying, what does experience really give your direct reports? People want a manager that can help them work through problems and collaborate well with them, and very often that isn’t just using that person’s experience to figure out the solution. There are times when experience is helpful, but I would push back and say although you might not have that specific work experience, we all have valuable experiences that can be just as beneficial for your direct reports.
2. Don’t let the power get to your head
I’ve seen new managers get put into positions of power and ultimately think they need to change to be a different employee. There is a reason you were promoted into this new position, and that means you should continue to treat people how you have been treating them. Just because you are now managing people does not mean that you are above them. In fact, it means that you should focus more on helping those people underneath you and taking blame for mistakes but giving credit for success as all good leaders do.
3. Value the whole person/people
People want to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work, and value sharing stories about what makes them who they are. Provide outlets for your direct reports to talk about what excites them outside of work, what they love to do, and what their values are. The more you can treat your direct report like a full person and not just someone who is working below you, the better that relationship will be.
4. Treat people the way you want to be treated
This one may be simple and obvious, but the golden rule is so incredibly important in organizations. As we become a manager and our time is possibly stretched thinner, always think about how you are bringing yourself to work every day. What do you want your reputation to be and how are your everyday actions showing that? If you know that you get frustrated by angry/assertive emails, make sure you are including niceties in your emails. Before sending that email showing your frustration, think about how you would feel receiving that same email.