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Promotion..managing those senior to you

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  • Oct 2nd, 2012 2:45 pm
[OP]
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Oct 16, 2008
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Promotion..managing those senior to you

My manager has confirmed I am in line for a promotion. It likely won't take place for a few months. I will be managing people 20 years my senior. Any recommendations from those who have been in a similar situation? I am female, in my twenties. It will be my first promotion. I plan to work the next few months on developing closer relationships with all staff to demonstrate my competence and
show I am worthy of their respect.
6 replies
Sr. Member
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Aug 22, 2009
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Guelph, ON
By your thread title, I initially thought you were being promoted two levels (i.e. becoming your boss' new boss) :P
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Jan 27, 2007
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Peterborough
Don't make them think you know more or better than them even if you do.

Treat them as colleagues, not as subordinates.

Involve them in all decisions, or at least make them think they are involved.

Ask for their opinions.

Give them something different to do, or a new task to keep them engaged.

Ask them to "teach" you what they do because they are the experts and have all the experience to back it up.

In the meantime get to know them on a personal level. Introduce your educational background/other aspects about your peronality and show them that you are driven to suceed and want to stick with your employer for the long term to be successful.
[QUOTE]I know you are, but what am I.... ;) [/QUOTE]
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Sep 23, 2007
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spookie149 wrote:
Sep 29th, 2012 3:25 pm
My manager has confirmed I am in line for a promotion. It likely won't take place for a few months. I will be managing people 20 years my senior. Any recommendations from those who have been in a similar situation? I am female, in my twenties. It will be my first promotion. I plan to work the next few months on developing closer relationships with all staff to demonstrate my competence and
show I am worthy of their respect.
The key is to not let age bother you. You must win your inner mental battle before you can convince others. It's like dating for guys. Many guys talk themselves out of asking a girl out because he thinks he's not good enough. When your insides are strong, it'll show on the outside. This sounds weird but I hope you understand it. It's not an exact science. This is why real leadership is considered a rare skill. Leadership is about a mix of charisma and ability to read people. Unfortunately leadership nowadays has been reduced to a buzz word for students and marketing from big companies.

Everyone has their unique style and quirks. I can't give you any specific tips. You just need to learn to read people and act accordingly. Some people might be jealous and you might never win them over. Some people just don't really care as long as it doesn't affect them. Many people feel jaded when you start changing processes that have been in place for years, especially when it's a young person doing it. Just like how people are all different, there are different ways to lead people. You need to find a leadership style that fits your personality and the situation at hand.

I've dealt with all kinds of people at work. Some people you have to bow your head a little to feed their ego. Some people you have to remember their birthdays for them to be productive. Most people will demand a basic level of competence before accepting you as leader but don't focus entirely on competence. The key difference between a leader and a follower is often PEOPLE skills, not technical competence.
[OP]
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Oct 16, 2008
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Excellent advice in this thread. Really appreciate it. Keep it coming!

Bananahunter - Your point on the inner mental battle is dead-on. It has been a battle for me, particularly in large meetings with senior and sometimes more aggressive managers.
Sr. Member
Sep 26, 2007
846 posts
20 upvotes
I am in my late 20's and manage a staff of 7, everyone except my recent new hire is older than me.

In all honesty it will depend on how you are viewed and the culture of the place. I replaced their boss who was 60, so it was a big shock for the team, but so far I haven't had issues. I can tell some people do get testy, but ultimately the onus is on me to prove myself at this point as I am new.

You said it yourself, earn their respect, this will come with time and everything will be fine.
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Apr 4, 2004
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I was in a similar boat, except I came from outside the organization. I manage 3 people who have 10 years, 20 years, and 30 years more than me.

At first they were all stand-offish to me. They didn't know who I was or what I brought to the table. I had a 1-on-1 meeting with each of them where I asked them to introduce themselves to me (from personal to professional). I also asked them what their motivations were at work, and what their expectations were of me. I had to gain their trust but after a couple months, they all turned around and began bragging to other colleagues how they have the best manager in the company. Some of the key things I did were developed them to become the experts of their field (also giving them all recognition even if I did a lot of the work), gave them clear guidelines and timelines so communication was not an issue, and most importantly backed them up in front of others even if they made a big mistake. Behind closed doors I would give them a stern warning to not screw up so big, but in front of others, I took the blame. In a nutshell, tell them you'll make them look good if they make you look good and stick to it.

btw, it's totally sexist, but unless you're in a female dominated company, I think your greatest issue will be gaining the respect from older male staff.

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