25% of supervisors are younger than their staff

how to handle a young managerFor most of us, it’s not reality, but having a young supervisor is obviously a phenomenon that is fairly widespread. At first glance, I’m thinking, “Yeah! Go for it young people!” And then I realized I could be one of those who has a younger manager one day; it made me stop and think. It would be a challenge, but it’s something we may all run into at some point in our careers.

Here is the breakdown according to the SHRM website poll for the question What is your age in relation to your supervisor?:

  • I’m Older-26%
  • I’m Younger-56%
  • I’m About the Same-18%

I think the toughest one on there has to be being older than your manager. But on the flip side, it has to be stressful for a manager to step into a role with subordinates that could be twice his/her age. I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t have a wide range of managers, because great managing talent/ability is found in all sorts of individuals, no matter how many years are under their belt. Simply making the observation that this could be a friction point between a good manager and an otherwise good employee if age is lumped in.

Interesting stuff! So, where do you fall on the list? Are you older than your supervisor, younger, or about the same?

Hackathons and fun at work

What’s a hackathon, you may be wondering? Check out the video below for more on that and the importance of having fun at work. I’m currently reading the Levity Effect, and it talks all about how to lighten up and have some fun in the workplace. When I read an article last week about a hackathon, I thought it was a neat concept and one that might be worth pursuing.

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Anyone else think that’s a neat idea? I’d love to hear some feedback on why it would/wouldn’t work!

Teaching your supervisors the basics of management

training for supervisorsI ran across this site recently and had to laugh. It is a common theme that I’ll get a call because I’m the “computer guy” in the family. With Teach Parents Tech you have the option of sending video links directly to those who need assistance. That allows you to indirectly teach your parents/grandparents/in laws/whoever how to do computer tasks from simple (changing your computer’s clock) to advanced (changing your email address).

Why can’t we do that?

Then I started thinking about other applications. What if you could do the same for your supervisors? What if there was a neat way like this to teach them the basic principles of good management? Would you use the tool?

For instance, a new supervisor runs into a situation (giving feedback on poor performance, motivating employees in a slump, giving a presentation to senior management, etc.). They don’t have someone available to ask for help, so they pop onto the web and find the video that corresponds with that particular situation.

No, it’s not a perfect substitute for an in-person chat with someone who already knows how to do the task, but it’s better than going into the situation blind-folded. Just a little bit of preparation could go a long way in most instances.

A few situations I think would be neat to cover:

  • How to give accurate, honest feedback
  • Why documentation is essential
  • The wide world of terminations
  • Harassment, discrimination, and lawsuits, o my!
  • Safety and security in the workplace
  • How to train someone
  • Coaching and mentoring your staff
  • Building and managing teams
  • Developing and pursuing a vision
  • And tons more!

What do you think? Are there other scenarios that you think supervisors run into on a daily basis that they could use some training on?

Replacing poor performers doesn’t always work

I was sitting in a session during the Human Resources Management Conference about employee engagement recently, and someone brought up an amazing quote.

As a little background, business leaderĀ Jack Welch advocated firing the bottom 10% of poor performers in order to maintain a high performance organization.

You can replace the bottom 10-20% of poor performers, but a bad manager can keep that poor performance going indefinitely.

I thought that was a fantastic insight. Even if you’re tossing the lowest ranked employees, a bad manager can hire more. A bad manager can turn a great employee into a bad one with enough inattention and mismanagement. A bad manager can hire B performers instead of A performers because he is afraid to hire someone capable of replacing him.

Replacing poor performers might not work if your supervisors are the real problem.

Good stuff, huh?

Leadership-Asking Tough Questions

Leadership-it's about asking tough questions...I think one responsibility leaders have is asking tough questions. Getting your people to think about what their roles are and how they can best fill them is a challenge all managers face.

Recently my own manager asked a series of difficult questions in a department meeting. In responding to the questions, I felt like my opinion was valued and I worked through some thorny issues I’ve dealt with lately. It was really a fantastic exercise. I won’t reproduce my answers here, but it won’t hurt to share the thought-provoking questions with you, right?

1) What’s one think you want to improve? This could be whatever you like. It’s pretty open. Think of something.

2) What’s one thing you want to do that you’ve never done before? My list for this could be a mile long. Asking this question shows that you want to help your people advance in their careers.

3) What’s one thing for the department to improve? What would make yours better? Help your people uncover those issues that may be invisible to you as a manager. Or maybe you can see if the same problems you’ve observed are visible to them. So many possibilities for this one!

4) What’s something I (the manager) am not doing/providing for you (the employee)? Admit that you don’t know everything. Maybe you’ve missed something. Go for it. Who knows what you’ll find out?

These aren’t magic questions. They don’t really solve any problems. They do, however, provide a means of uncovering hidden issues and addressing them. And all it takes is actually asking your people. Funny how that works, huh?