Handling workplace dynamics as a young team leader
Young professionals today are carving out prominent places for themselves in corporate sectors. Gen Z leaders are pushing corporate boundaries, starting from work-life balance to company culture, taking on more leadership roles to steer through these changes.
Being a young leader
While it's true that opportunities are expanding for today's young professionals, it's not necessarily easier for younger employees to cope with the workplace dynamics. If you are young and in a management position or leading projects with a team, it's normal to worry about being seen as an authority figure by those who report to you. Thus, handling the ever-changing dynamics of your workplace might seem challenging.
As a young manager, you are likely to be in charge of people who have a range of different skills, different possibilities, and different ages. Although the challenges are seemingly endless in a corporate-run environment, the key thing to remember is: you are in this position for a reason! You should always try to turn handicaps into advantages which you can utilise.
Md. Adnan Habib is the Lead of Operations of a Dhaka-based IT company. He started young and is currently in a management position that one would say was 'above his age' ten years ago. But the scene is completely different today. "Sometimes I feel the pressure of working as an Operational Manager, leading a group of more than 160 people. My team members require assistance in different ways and I must present myself in a friendly manner to establish trust, increase engagement and get the work done in time. I never think of myself as just a leader, but someone who will constantly be active in assisting my teammates", states Habib.
According to Habib, some of the most common adversities a young leader can face are communication-based problems. "When starting, I had to gather and organise my teammates to ensure efficient teamwork and communication. The pandemic slowed things down for us, forcing us to work from home. But constant communication helped us persevere" - he adds.
As a young manager, you might keep questioning your decisions from time to time. You are the leader of a team and there are goals that you must accomplish. Keep in mind that it's okay to feel overwhelmed. You have earned this position because of your strengths and you will shepherd this through as well.
Plan to get the best from your team
Being assertive about what you would like to achieve and how you'd like your team to support those goals is step one on this journey. With a clear set of initiatives and plans to back them up, you don't need to feel intimidated by anyone or any challenge that might come your way.
By focusing on tasks rather than solely on your role as a manager, you can remove much of the uncertainty and emotion that might drive negativity that is often directed upwards. Minimising friction and miscommunication among team members will ease your work and ensure a smooth and cooperative atmosphere with more positive results.
Understand what motivates team members
Regardless of age, knowing what matters to your team members will help support them in the right ways, with appropriate development plans and meaningful rewards. Always try to learn from each other, especially during team discussions. A smart leader should know how to take everything valuable on board, even the most minute suggestions. Every employee offers different strengths and weaknesses to the company culture - contributing to the progressive company dynamic. You can make your coworkers identify their importance by acknowledging their unique strengths. Remember, one size does not fit all.
Farhat Chowdhury Zishan is working as a senior specialist at a multinational software company. He shares his views on tackling the challenges a young manager might face from his experience, "I think young line managers need to see the big picture and treat their tasks as a marathon instead of a race. Adrenaline kicks in right after you get to lead your team. But as new leaders, you need to sit with your team, understand your deputy's point of view and work your way through the obstacles. Don't rush. Just tackle every challenge with courage, creativity and resilience."
As detailed in the Wall Street Journal's managerial guide, managers must recognise differences in expertise, working styles and personalities among the individual-based direct reports.
Just because you have put in the hard work to reach this level of progress in your career at a young age, doesn't mean it's time to coast. You can still voice your ideas and opinions on projects and initiatives outside of your job description. Always be prepared mentally to take on new responsibilities. Use your leading position as a chance to champion tons of progress and openness.
As per Deloitte's 2017 Millennial Survey, Gen Y-ers feel that they are capable of making a significant impact in the greater community through their workplace. Youngsters today, especially millennials, are beaming with the passion in rolled-up sleeves - ready to go and make a difference in shaping the cultural and political landscape. As long as you're aware of the crucial steps, you will get the hang of your role as a young team leader in no time!