As more senior employees promote to higher ranks of government or retire, millennial govies are beginning to fill those positions and in some cases will step into supervisory roles for the first time. We hear from a millennial from local government who was put in that position, promoted to a supervisory role managing multiple staff that were around her age. This position presented new challenges, but also an incredible learning opportunity. We hear her frustrations of being a young manager, but more importantly the lessons she learned.
Early frustrations of being a young manager:
Being a young manager, age certainly affects your relationship with those you supervise and often with your peers. There are times when your decisions seem to be questioned more than they are from those that are older. At times I felt that the direction I provided was not necessarily respected. I would feel frustrated when I received push back from my team when the direction I provided was often from previous experience performing the same tasks or were from carrying out the needs of leadership.
The four lessons I learned:
1. Actively Listen
The best approach for this new role and for conflict is to actively listen. Listen and make sure your employee feels like they have been heard and that you understand where they are coming from, generally they will also hear your point of view. If that does not happen, it is difficult to resolve any issue. Sometimes it can be hard not to get defensive but if they don’t feel heard, they won’t hear you either.
2. Support your Team
I think the best way to gain trust and respect is to support your employees. Let them know you have their backs. Highlight their wins to your organization and take responsibility yourself for any failings. I listen to ideas my staff have proposed and lobby to have them implement those good ideas. I try to support them without micromanaging them and continually giving them new projects and responsibility.
3. Not Control Everything, but Manage Expectations
It is important to find a good balance of being hands off and not micromanaging while still being supportive and clear about what you expect of the outcome of project. My style has been more hands off to allow my employees to work through projects on their own so they can learn as much as they can and to take pride in having their own projects. What I have realized over time though is to be very clear about objectives and expectations of a project, to check in throughout the project, and to make yourself available to work through times when they get stuck.
4. Lean on Mentors
I would owe success in my career in large part to my mentors. I had a mentor at my agency who also significantly helped my growth as a professional and manager. Having someone at your own agency, who has a better understanding of the issues you encounter, is invaluable. Having someone who supports your projects and positions in the agency is also incredibly beneficial.
Brigitte Mardigras is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). The views expressed by this author are her own and do not represent the views of the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Government. You can also find Brigitte on Twitter at @brigitttem. To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.