Five tips to help young managers work with senior team members

How to make the relationship between a young manager and an older team member work.

The younger generation’s hunger for immediate gratification and eagerness to work their way up the ladder makes it easy for them to move to another role. Their perceived lack of patience, however, can cause problems in the workplace, especially when managing older team members.

Try these five tips from Agile Talent Strategist, Leadership & HR Expert and Executive Coach, Anja van Beek, to navigate your way through the various team relationships at work:

Lead with humility

Be authentic and let your leadership style speak for itself. Avoid saying things like “I know I have only been here for two years…”. Remember that your team members have been in the business longer than you and might be very sensitive towards any behaviour coming from a place of “power”. Discuss how you can support them in their roles.

Go slow on immediate changes

People often say, “don’t rock the boat, if it is working, don’t change it”. While it might be very exciting and tempting to want to implement changes immediately, you do need to be mindful of how you approach and suggest changes. A practical way is to have a conversation with the team about the one thing they don’t want to see changed AND the one thing that needs to be changed. Use a coaching approach, where you ask questions instead of directing. Be a sounding board and remove the obstacles standing in their way of success.

Focus on building relationships

Trust is built on three pillars: competence, character and care. It is the character and care pillar that is relevant when building relationships. People crave connection and want to feel they belong to a team while making a meaningful contribution. An authentic working relationship is about knowing your team better. Are you keen to understand what are the intrinsic motivation for each member? Do you know anything about them outside work? Hobbies? Their partners or kids names?

Remain curious to learn

Just because you are the manager, doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Tap into your team’s expertise and remain curious to understand why things have been done in a specific way. Listen to your team and mobilize them. Liz Wiseman, an author of Multipliers, says “We often find that people who are inexperienced outperform people with experience, not because of the new ideas that they bring, but [because of] the hunger and openness that they bring.”

Ask for feedback but don’t seek approval

Research has highlighted the power of a diverse team; the collective intelligence always trumps the intelligence of the individual. Involve your team and brainstorm as a group. Ask for feedback. What is working, what needs tweaking and what should be dropped is a good conversation to have with team members.

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