Managing An Older Team As A Young Manager

Guest post by Sean McPheat:

With more and more graduates finding
themselves in a managerial role fresh out of university, it’s interesting to
analyse the way that young managers are able to manage and interact with their
older team members.

I myself was a young manager, working with
a team of much older and more experienced sales people in my role as Head Of
Operational Planning at only 21 years old! Half of my team were twice my age
and yet I was expected to command the respect of these people who had been in
the business longer than I’d been alive – a daunting task to say the very

I was with that company for nearly 8 years
in the end, and I learnt very quickly how to overcome my fear of being a young
manager with a much older team. Here are my top tips on how to manage your team
as a young manager – because at the end of the day, age is only a number.

1.    Steer clear of any “Big
Boss” talk

Although it might seem
like a good idea to start with, acting the big “I Am” with your new team is
never a good idea. Whilst you might think you are being authoritative and
making your mark in your new role, your team are sure to take an instant
disliking to you and are likely to go on the defensive with you from the word

Instead of trying to exert
your new power over the team, let your team know that although you are in
charge, you see your role as being there to help and support them far more than
just bossing them around. Make it clear that you are there to help them do
their job better and make it easier for them to achieve their goals.

2.    Get to know your team as

Whilst this rule is
paramount for any team leader, getting to know your team as a young manager is
especially important to ensure that you can communicate fluently with each of
them and to help you learn more about their career motivation within their

Not only will this help
them to see that you do care about them as individuals, it will also help them
to warm to you as a person and allow them to see you as being more than just
their boss.

3.    Tap into their knowledge
and expertise

Don’t assume that just
because you have been given a managerial role in the company that you are the
most knowledgeable and experienced person in your team. You can learn so much
from your team in terms of their knowledge and understanding of the business,
and you can also learn a lot from their past experience with the company.

Your team might have some
really valuable ideas about how you can progress and develop your department,
and they may not have been given the chance to voice these ideas to their
previous manager. Not only will you learn a lot from your team, but you will
also ensure that they feel valued in your department and that their opinions do
matter to you.

4.    Be confident in your

Although I have
recommended against acting the Big Boss with your team, you also can’t afford
to act like you have no idea what you are doing and that you are scared to
tread on people’s toes. Your company has employed you to manage your team, and
you need to demonstrate that you know your stuff and that you are not afraid to
actually MANAGE your team.

They will respect you more
if they can see that you are confident in your abilities as a manager and that
you are not going to shy away from the nitty gritty that is involved in your

Author credit:
Founder and MD of international management development
, Sean McPheat is widely
regarded as a leading authority on modern day management and leadership. Sean
is a bestselling author, and
has been recognised for his own business building skills
through the British Business Awards and has been featured in the Who’s Who Of
Britain’s Business Elite.
Click here to follow Sean online.