Freshly out of college to start your own career, you might find yourself in a position of power a lot sooner than you expected. You might start up your own business or you might be hired almost directly into a managerial position because of your resume. But being a boss is a lot harder and demanding than you might think, especially when you have older more experienced people under your command. Since you need their collaboration as much as they need yours, here’s what you need to do for things to go as smoothly as possible.
1. Lead with your skills and charisma, not your title
Certified, accredited, chartered, nobody cares. You have to command people with respect and skills, not with whatever power someone has bestowed upon you. The best leaders are those who are both very proficient at what they do and act for the best interest of the team. If you’re someone who is extraordinary knowledgeable in the field, but takes decisions for your own purposes only, people will not want to work hard for you and they will start chatting on FaceBook when your back is turned. On the other hand, if you care a lot about your team but you fall short in performance area, people might appreciate it, but things will get out of control as they will stop listening to your instructions and trust their own judgement instead.
2. Have realistic expectations about your employees
Maybe you have big dreams and high ambitions, wanting to reach the top before you hit 30 years old, earning 200k a year having your own house fully paid. But the truth is, most people don’t and most of them don’t even care about the company or your plan to climb it. In this individualistic world, they have their own personal agenda and it will probably not be in accordance with yours.
Therefore, don’t expect them to move mountains and kill themselves at the job, because they have no motivation to do so. Instead, you need to have realistic goals for them and expect a decent amount of effort and quality, not a great one. That way, you will be satisfied with their work instead of being disappointed every time they don’t perform at the high standards you set out for yourself.
3. Keep your ego down and don’t underestimate others
Remember that you’re not better or superior than your employees just because you’re their boss. Some of them will be more experienced and skillful than you, but have chosen not take a leadership position for whatever reason. Some of them will be average at best. To gain their compliance, it’s important that you have humility and recognize that while you might be the world champion in this particular field, they might beat you at other areas of their lives.
4. Be honest
If you want to congratulate your employees and you don’t really believe in what you say, just don’t. They can tell the difference between fake and heartfelt, and they will be annoyed with you if you think they can’t. If you’re not happy, don’t hide it. Explain calmly what you want done without resorting to personal attacks. Don’t beat around the bush or use white gloves, be direct and state objectively what has to change instead, without any blame or finger pointing. Your focus is to get the job done as best as possible; if you give another impression, your employees will begin to distrust you and throw paper planes at each other the moment you start blinking.
5. Trust your staff
A lot of you are passionate and care a lot about what you do, so you have a certain reserve about delegating your task to others. While the results your employees produce won’t be exactly like you wanted, it will often be good enough. Avoid micromanaging them or checking up on them too often, thinking it will increase performance, because it will have the opposite effect: a lot of them simply don’t use the same techniques as you do. You have to give them enough freedom for them to use their own creativity and knowledge to do what they think is best.
6. Stay professional
Don’t be too friendly with your employees. It might be tempting at first because you get their collaboration a lot faster that way, but in the long run it will backfire. You won’t be able to make clear, objective decisions because your personal life will be intertwined with theirs. When things go ire, you will be hesitant to deal with the situation for fear of damaging your friendship. Your working relationships will get complicated fast, as people will become jealous when you give more attention to certain coworkers, setting a toxic atmosphere where they think kissing your ass with enthusiasm gets them ahead of others.
7. Don’t expect something out of people if you don’t do it yourself
Finally, if you want to be respected, you need to be respectful. For instance, you like to receive clear, well organized emails that go straight to the point, because you value your time and have many tasks to manage at the same time. Therefore, to also value the time of your employees, you should send the same kind of messages by avoiding writing vague communication that requires a lot of deciphering. You like people to be on time, because if they didn’t it would affect your important schedule. Then when you give an appointment to your employees, be on time yourself. If you expect what you also give, you will find that people will become a lot more compliant with your demands.