We work in a multi-generational industry with colleagues of all ages working in all departments, shoulder to shoulder. More often this is a successful model where experience of the elders is passed down to the youngsters.
Where this doesn’t work sometimes is when age bias comes into play, and I don’t mean someone being too old to do a job which is a trap door discussion for another day. Instead this post focusses on managing colleagues who on the face of it may appear too young to hold a senior position, and how this is managed within the wider team.
Star quality in youngsters needs to be recognised in any business. I’ve always described this process as cream rising to the top of a cup of coffee. If it happens then it needs to managed, not just in terms of the young colleague involved but also older colleagues who may not fully understand or appreciate. Also, if you don’t genuinely promote quality, it may well leave the business.
I’ve found repeatedly that managing young and newly promoted managers requires close mentoring that includes mapping out and consolidating a focus on the full job role. For as much as young stars have unlimited energy, the role needs to be paced with milestones of understanding with a rhythm to compliant other departments.
Another key consideration in promoting young stars is that their performance already garners respect from their team. It’s important that any management position fuses both formal and informal leadership qualities for the role to succeed.
Promoting young stars however is not without its problems insomuch that other members of the team may be jealous of someone advancing quicker than they have (with associated salary) and might not be in a position to understand the new young managers broader value to the business. It’s not their business to know this. These other staff or managers may test the new manager unfairly and in some situations they are at risk of being bullied and undermined. When this happens and the GM steps in there’s the additional risk of the GM seeking to favour the young manager. It’s a catch 22 scenario to manage carefully.
Despite the challenges, the GM’s duty to the company is paramount and effective talent should be nurtured at every turn. It’s not always an easy path for the young manager, but ultimately, if you’re definitely good enough, you’re definitely old enough.
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