Stepping into a new leadership role is difficult regardless of one’s age. However, having this responsibility earlier on in your career can be an even bigger challenge. When the people you are supervising are the same age as you, or further along in their career, it may take additional effort to get these employees to take you seriously. Here are some tips to earn the respect of seasoned employees when you are placed in a leadership role as a young professional.
In a leadership role, it’s essential to hold your head up high and start confident. Managing seasoned employees can be intimidating at first, but it’s important to remember that you were chosen to lead for a reason. Find the right balance in attitude so you don’t appear arrogant. Acting like you’re better than any other worker will not get you far as a leader, but you need to have the right amount of confidence to be respected.
Learn & Listen
Unfortunately, experienced workers will probably be a bit uncomfortable at first having to report to someone younger. With that said, put in the effort first and genuinely try to connect. Hold one-on-one meetings with each individual you are supervising and learn everything you can about them – professionally and personally. Listen more than you speak and learn what skills and knowledge they can bring to the table and what their professional goals are. Not only is this essential information for formulating your overall “big picture” goals moving forward, but it makes your team feel important that you want to maximize their abilities. Plan one-on-one meetings once a month as things are still fresh. This will make your team feel like they can talk to you, but it will also hold them accountable for what they’ve been assigned.
When in a leadership role, many eyes are on you. If you say you’re going to accomplish a task, you must follow through. Make a goal, voice the goal, and successfully reach it. This will prove that you are reliable and are capable of meeting expectations, earning the respect of those you are managing and encouraging them to do the same.
Trust & Recognize
In order to earn the trust of your team, you need to trust them in return. Delegate tasks, but don’t instruct on how they have to be completed. Trust that your team will get their job done without monitoring their every move. When projects are done well, recognize and reward these accomplishments. Celebrate their successes as if they are your own.
After considering all of the advice above, the last tip is to simply be patient. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of your team and earning their respect will take time. There will be mistakes and questions along the way, and your team will be hesitant of you at first. Accept that it won’t be a perfect start and find other leaders that you can connect with for advice along the way.