How to Succeed as a Young Manager

Before the age of 28, Aaron McDaniel had been appointed regional vice president at a Fortune 10 company.  He has managed over 100 people and has been responsible for a variety of job functions from business development to network operations.  I asked Aaron, who now writes the Young Professional’s Edge blog, for his top tips for how to succeed as a manager who is younger than or the same age as most of your direct reports.  Here are some of his key recommendations:

Don’t Readily Reveal Your Age

Don’t make references to college or other things that show your team you are younger than (or the same age as) they are. Instead of describing your experience by highlighting the amount of time you have worked, emphasize the concrete results you have achieved. You will be more likely to be taken seriously.

Set and Maintain Expectations

Especially with a younger manager, people like to see how much they can get away with, so sit down with your team and outline your expectations at the very beginning.  It is also important to understand what your team’s expectations are of you.

Be Present and Inclusive

Considering all you have to do, it’s tempting to move into your managerial ivory tower.  However, by being physically around your team, you will make your employees feel noticed and valued.  It’s particularly important to ask your staff for ideas based on their experience, and then implement these whenever you can.  If you have to make a difficult decision that affects everyone, bring the whole team into the conversation.

Remove Obstacles

One of your primary roles is to remove obstacles that are hindering your team from achieving an optimum level of success.  The best way to do this is by listening and keeping a pulse on what is going well from your team and what is not.  By taking the Jerry Maguire “help me help you” approach, you will be able to fix issues and build positive momentum.

Leverage Your Energy and Ideas

Take advantage of the fact that younger managers tend to bring a higher level of enthusiasm to the job.  Leverage your ideas for making work more fun and your team more efficient – the more creative the better!

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  • Guest

    That advice is good for any manager of any age…the goal is to be ageless and timeless in the business world today.

    • Anonymous

      Great comment.  People are people, after all!

  • Excellent article. And there is one saying that person not be the great or elder by his/her age , but by the deeds he/she has done. So by learning from the elders and getting from today’s generation and ideas of the own mind , any age person can done the best. And even the younger can manage the whole organisation with its own planning. And there is no any age limit to do anything or to learn anything but just the need is for the encouragement and to be the determined and the self confidence.

    • Anonymous

      Definitely.  People should not feel limited by their age as expertise can be gleaned quickly if one is focused and determined.

    • Anonymous

      Definitely.  People should not feel limited by their age as expertise can be gleaned quickly if one is focused and determined.

  • Thanks, good article, there is a lot placed on youth in today`s old, but experience counts at any age

    • Anonymous

      Appreciate the feedback!

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  • Lucas Batista

    Good article! I have just been promoted to be a manager at age of 27 and I am looking for advice on this area.

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  • Maddi

    Really enjoyed this article. I’m 18 years old and have been asked to step up and become a manager. Most of my co-workers had a very hard time (still do) accepting the fact that someone 2 times younger than them will be in charge. I’ve found out that one of the best things to do is to simply set all comments and negative outlooks aside and focus on the fact that there was obviously a reason why I was picked for this position instead of someone else. I think that age is just simply a number. Having shown outstanding work and efforts has brought me to where I am today. I wish people would understand that instead of just looking down upon me the minute they find out that I’m the manager. Thanks for the advice.

  • YSL

    Well said. I had been promoted to a manager role at the age of 23. People would be doubtful and I am consistently seeking ways to improve my total management capabilities. Though the start was not easy but now looking back , I enjoyed the process. And age is really just a number. If people are promoted and rated higher because of just age itself , who else will work hard or why should one be rated based on merits. I believe its the attitude and the sprit that makes young leaders different today.

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  • ABGarcia

    Thanks for the TIPS. I am a fresh graduate and only 20 years old. I was applying for my 1st Job as a Service Crew in a Restaurant, and then during the Initial Interview the HR offered me to be trained as a Manager. And then I grabbed it,. That’s why I am here. Such a big help!

    • Alex_IntuitQuickBase

      Great to hear! Alexandra will be so happy to see this. If the restaurant you end up managing has any issues around managing inventory tracking or other paper or spreadsheet type operational issues, be sure to check out QuickBase. Perhaps you could save them thousands of dollars and become our next H.E.R.O.!