You’re a star employee. You mastered all of your responsibilities, and now, you are promoted to manager. Go gettum, Tiger!
Often, becoming a manager is not that easy. Employees are promoted to manager, yet they don’t receive formal management training. Excelling as a manager is very different than excelling as an individual contributor, and many of the skills that make you a great employee are completely opposite to what make you a strong manager. As a millennial manager, you likely crave advice and insights on your new role.
There are a few key principles and tips that every millennial manager should keep in mind:
1. Get to know your people, and adjust your style. You have many different communication styles and personalities on your team. Don’t think that you can manage everyone the same way, and don’t assume everyone likes to be managed the way you like to be managed. Remember that when it comes to management, the golden rule is wrong. Treat others the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated. Keep in mind that Generation X and Boomers think about work very differently than Millennials, so if you’re managing employees older than you, then you can adjust your management style to best fit that individual.
2. Give feedback – the good, bad, & ugly. You know that spinach leaf that gets stuck in your teeth after lunch? Don’t you want someone to tell you about it? That’s the exact same sentiment with feedback! Even though it’s sometimes hard to give feedback, your direct reports want to know. Don’t wait for the annual or semi-annual review. Feedback should be a daily, ongoing process, not something that happens once a year. Carve out a few minutes for daily coaching, and make it a point to sit down once a month to chat informally about how things are going. This constant communication prevents small problems from becoming big concerns.
Doug Conant on Collaboration Advice for New Managers
3. Mind the line between manager and BFF. Millennial managers are all about collaboration, connection, and their people, and you also tend to be transparent, open, and more casual leaders. Since millennials are often managing other millennials, the lines between boss and friend can get blurry. As a manager, you absolutely want to be “friendly” but you don’t have to be best friends with your employees. If your employees see you as a friend, it may be more difficult to deliver constructive criticism, hold them accountable, and manage everyone fairly. You can still collaborate, connect, and support your people without being best buddies as you follow the path of becoming some millennial managers.
4. Delegate responsibilities. We know no one can do it as well as you can, BUT you need to delegate to give yourself time to complete tasks more appropriate for your level. The best leaders know how to offer guidance and support to their employees without telling them the answers or doing it for them. You can empower your people by giving them stretch projects and letting them develop new skills. Delegating responsibility is the best way to groom future leaders.
5. Fail at something. Being a manager is tough. You have to make difficult decisions, you have to call the shots, and you have to keep your team engaged and high-performing. This means that you will have to take some chances and make decisions that might not have consensus. The millennial generation is a high-achieving generation, and you don’t like to fail. Keep in mind that failure is on the road to success. If you’re not failing, then you likely aren’t trying anything new or thinking outside of the box. Learn as you go, and try to find the lesson in every setback or failure.
Managing a team is challenging, but it can be the most rewarding aspect of your job if you invest the time and effort. As the leader, you want to mentor, coach, and guide your people, but you also want to be a student and soak up as much information and management advice you can to continue growing as a strong, inspirational leader.
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Courtney Templin is the coauthor of Manager 3.0.
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