Many millennials, including me, are now in positions of leadership that require them to supervise staff members — some of whom are older than they are.
Unfortunately, most new managers don’t necessarily receive formal people-management training. Much of what I have learned about supervision has been through trusted mentors, confidants, and most important, experience.
Are you a millennial who is feeling a little unsure or overwhelmed about your new supervision role? Here are four key pieces of advice.
1. Really get to know your staff
When starting a new role, have one-on-one meetings with your staff. Ask them about their likes and dislikes. Find out how they like to be managed and how they thrive. What leads to frustration for them at work?
Ask them to recall a time when they felt supported by a supervisor and a time they felt least supported.
Ask them about their goals, and where they see themselves in three-to-five years.
This helps you gain insight into who they are, how they work and what they need from you to perform at their best. It also communicates to them that their supervisor is invested in getting to know them.
2. Know yourself and set expectations
I have always believed that some of the best supervisors not only know their employees but also know themselves. Take some time to do an honest assessment of who you are and how you would like to lead. Do you like to reflect on decisions before making them? Are you a leader who clearly articulates deadlines to employees? It’s important to know who you are, what makes you tick, and what you won’t tolerate as a leader.
Great leaders establish clear expectations and communicate these expectations to their staff.
3. Use inclusive language when you talk about the staff
It recently became apparent to me that people judge you based on how you talk about your staff. A colleague pointed out that I never use phrases like “those people under me” or “I’m their boss.” Though I wasn’t really cognizant of the language I used, I do strive to make sure everyone feels valued and seen as an equal contributor. In meetings and in informal conversations, I use words and phrases like “co-workers,” “the staff I support,” or “the staff members who work with me.”
Leaders who use inclusive language communicate their ability to create a team-oriented culture.
4. Brag humbly but do it frequently
In a world that is constantly doubting one’s credibility, you have to prove that you belong — and showcase your value to the workplace. This means highlighting what you do well as often as you can. When you and/or your team achieve notable accomplishments, tell people about them. Share them on LinkedIn, your personal website, social media or your workplace newsletter. This helps create an accomplishment trail, and it also tells other people the value you and your team bring.
Supervising people comes with a host of challenges, but it is very rewarding. Despite being young, you can still make an impact and earn respect from the team.