One thing’s for certain if you have a really young team – there’ll be loads of energy going around. Meetings can be like a convention of Energizer bunnies. This is a good thing and you can definitely capitalize on their boundless energy especially when you have projects to accomplish.
It’s important to acknowledge, however, that managing a youthful team can present a few challenges especially if you’re at least 10 years older than they are. The generation gap is going to manifest in many aspects of your operations.
For example, they may throw around some words that you’ve never heard of before and you may find yourself conflicted on whether to pretend you caught their drift or just demand them to use terminologies that someone like you actually knows. Or it could be the other way around, you could be using language you think everyone understands but is actually completely above the heads of those born in the ‘90s.
Say, you’re trying to describe a device that functions a lot like a cassette tape, a person born in 1995 may have no inkling what a cassette tape is. Equally the younger generation have grown up with technology at their fingertips. Mobile devices, social media, digital marketing, content marketing are all just part of their everyday lives.
That’s just one aspect; there are other aspects to dealing with each other that can create confusion. Values are another – everybody knows that work values have morphed greatly over the last decade especially with the rise of smart technology. A lot of millennials are not very familiar with the importance of fundamental and long-form methods especially with data gathering because what they’re acquainted with is the reliable efficiency of the internet.
To outwork all these potential issues, you, as a leader from a different generation should learn the effective principles in managing a young team in order to maximize their skills, present capabilities, and potentials for your organization’s advantage. How exactly do you do that?
Get Business Leadership Coaching
Business leadership coaching will provide you an arsenal of techniques on how to manage a team so every member is able to contribute to the objective of every project. Coaches can educate you further on what approaches or methods for instruction and motivation are most effective on young people.
Share Power to Your Young Teammates
Don’t be afraid to make them in charge of an important task. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what they’re truly capable of and what values they hold when it comes to getting work done. When you do this, however, be ready to help but don’t offer your help. Let them figure things out on their own because when they do, it’s going to be a boost to their confidence, and it will also strengthen their sense of creativity and resourcefulness.
Acknowledge Exceptional Performance
Young people need to be acknowledged so badly – they always come to work to prove their worth. If you want to sustain their enthusiasm, you must never overlook their solid performance and results. If possible, work out a reward for them. Even the small things like referencing what they’ve accomplished would already serve as a reward. Be careful not to be too generous with praises though because this has counterproductive effects not just on the young blood but also on you as a leader.
Create Brainstorming Sessions and Let the Young Members Be the Stars
Brainstorming is the perfect opportunity to discover the dynamic ideas your young team members have. Let them be the most important voices during these sessions and stress the value of their unique ideas in moving your organization forward and accomplishing the projects assigned to you. Demonstrate leadership agility by deliberately involving them more in the critical processes of operations.
Let Go of Underperforming Employees
Underperforming employees do not only compromise the output of the organization but they also create a toxic environment for young employees who work hard to establish their place in the organization. When such employees are retained, new and young team members may develop a negative mentality about the “true” value of work in the organization. Good business advice for leaders is to make sure that everybody in the team, particularly the young ones, are growing to their fullest potential – it’s an impossible goal to attain if you keep on holding on to the bad fruit in the basket.
The youth possess “a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease,” to quote the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Remember this when you see the millennials on your team because when you manage them properly, all those inherent qualities will manifest and reinvigorate your operations.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.