There has been a subtle and growing shift in the workplace over the past decade. Today, young professionals are carving out prominent places for themselves. Despite, or perhaps because of, their age, being young in the workplace has evolved from handicap to advantage.
Gen z leaders are pushing corporate boundaries —from work-life balance to company culture—and are also taking on more leadership roles to shepherd these changes through. Today’s startups are filled with leaders who, despite not having as many years of experience as other business leaders, are young and thrive at the intersection of culture, media and technology.
While it’s true that opportunities are expanding for today’s young professionals, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easier for younger employees to gain respect in the office. Here are four ways young managers can earn respect from their teams and supervisors.
1. Speak up
You’ve put in the hard work to progress to this point in your career, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to coast. Don’t let yourself think that just because you’ve been given new responsibilities, you can’t still voice your ideas and opinions on projects and initiatives outside of your job description. As a new leader in the company, you have the chance to champion a tone of progress and openness.
You’re in a position to make a real impact—both inside and outside the confines of your office. According to Deloitte’s “2017 Millennial Survey,” gen yers feel that they can make the most impact in the greater community through their workplace. Millennials are passionate about the issues shaping the cultural and political landscape, and they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and make a difference.
2. Open doors
The open door metaphor is an important one for young managers to remember on multiple levels. Managers who go out of their way to make their team members feel comfortable enough to raise their hands and ask questions will often be more successful at driving projects and mitigating mistakes. Putting walls up—literally and figuratively—between yourself and your direct reports isn’t making anyone’s life or workload easier.
As a leader, part of your responsibility is to nurture the careers of those around you, and the best way to do that is to be present, transparent and highly communicative at all times. Additionally, a managerial status means that you play an increased role in shaping project initiatives and company culture.
Always remember that you couldn’t have gotten to this place in your career without someone else keeping a few doors propped open for you. Leadership is, after all, more than just a position; it’s an attitude, and it’s important to pay forward the support and goodwill you’ve received.
3. Don’t take on every task
This may sound counter-intuitive, but often it’s better not to raise your hand all the time. While an all-hands-on-deck mentality has its merits, sometimes trying to pitch in on every project can detract from progress.
As a young manager, it can be difficult not to succumb to external pressures and try to prove yourself at every aspect of the job. But’s it’s also important to remember that you’re human; you will make mistakes and there will be a learning curve. Rather than just jumping into everything and risk floundering, try taking a few pages out of Tim Ferriss’s book.
A recent article shares a few of Ferriss’s best tips, including what he calls “deconstruction.” According to Ferriss, learning new skills is more attainable if you first break the big-picture goal into smaller parts. Using this method, you gain proficiency at specific skills, and will then be able to leverage your newfound experience to tackle your larger, overarching goals.
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4. One size does not fit all
Every employee offers varying strengths and weaknesses to a company culture; these differences are what makes companies dynamic and progressive. However, sometimes individuals can get lost in the shuffle if there is a one-size-fits-all approach to management. As detailed in the Wall Street Journal’s managerial guide, it’s crucial that managers recognize differences in expertise, working styles and personalities among their direct reports.
For example, you may be managing a multigenerational team comprised of baby boomers, gen xers and gen zers—all with different skills to offer and all at different stages of life. As a manager, it’s your job to not only help employees of different age groups interact productively, but also to facilitate individualized plans to help your reports learn and work in the best environment possible.
The massive success of many young leaders has paved the way for more young people to confidently step into higher-ranking managerial roles across industries. Always remember that as a young professional you have so much to offer your company: from tech and social media insights to fresh problem-solving perspectives—it’s your time to make progress a reality.
Deep Patel is a serial entrepreneur, marketer and the author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success.