These leaders are newly appointed to a leadership role because they have the qualifications and the results to match. The company sees potential in these individuals because they are technically sound, highly driven, and talented. Their employers have big plans for these new leaders. However, in some instances, persons reporting to them don’t feel engaged, they feel fearful. They don’t feel energetic, they feel drained, voiceless, over worked and undervalued.
Based on interactions with a wide variety of businesses here are some characteristics of inexperienced leaders:
- They are not always sensitive to members of the team because they haven’t shifted from a “me” mental model to a “we” mental model. If this is the case, these managers can appear to be more focused on their personal needs and how employees can contribute to their success. It takes time and developmental support to make the shift.
- Some inexperienced managers lack the skill needed to resolve complex, emotionally charged situations so they avoid them.
- Inexperienced managers may contribute to making the work environment highly political. Employees describe not being comfortable speaking up with inexperienced managers so they tip-toe around issues at the office.
- Inexperienced managers may intentionally or unintentionally create unhealthy competition that can lead to tension among team members and divisiveness instead of collaboration.
- Inexperienced managers may not listen to some of their long tenured employees because they have some type of bias toward them. They may perceive them as complainers or as being resistant to change. As a result there is impaired communication that can lead to missteps.
- Inexperienced leaders may be indecisive due to their lack of experience. They end up relying on whoever they trust more. Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t the persons with the greater good of the team in mind.
- Inexperienced managers don’t always have true authority. They may have been assigned an executive or managerial role, their compensation may have been increased, but they don’t have actual authority because someone else is calling the shots.
The intent here is not to assert that all inexperienced leaders are weak. When it comes to leadership, some inexperienced managers can be naturally brilliant leaders who lack technical skills but have the potential to be quick studies, others may not have experience leading within their respective teams, but they bring technical skills and relevant leadership experience from another organization or department.
Experienced employees who are not in leadership positions are often repositories of institutional memory. They understand the operation and they may have experienced various situations over the years like crises, restructuring exercises, and new CEOs so they can have a deep understanding of the business and may be equipped to address non-routine and complex situations. Experienced employees can be key points of contact if less experienced managers need information about what happened in the past.
Even though experienced employees possess useful information, if they have mental models that do not support collaboration, they may not share this information. In fact, I have witnessed circumstances where experienced employees allow less experienced manager to make significant errors especially when they feel devalued by the less experienced leader or company.
Differences between Generations in the Workplace.
In today’s workplace there can be four generations working together. With an inexperienced manager, who does not have adaptive leadership skills, this can be difficult to navigate as each generation has unique needs based on different worldviews shaped by societal events.
Millennials are currently the largest group of employees in the workforce. They have moved into management roles and they have a number of strengths. They are interested in helping others and they prefer work that is meaningful. They also enjoy work that aligns them with the mission of the organization and they are prepared to move around until they find this meaning.
Generation X employees fall between the Baby Boomers and Millennials. Generation X values autonomy, feedback and contribution. They are adaptive and independent. Baby Boomers have needs that are on the opposite end of the spectrum in relation to Millennials. They can be motivated by status and perks. Researchers describe them as competitive, and prepared to allow their lives to be out of balance in order to achieve power and prestige.
Coexistence – Making Differences Work
Diversity of insight, skills, communication styles, experience and knowledge contribute to higher performance. In the modern workplace, it is important for less experienced managers to build trust and team dynamics that support collaboration at all levels. Author Frans Johansson, creator of the Medici Effect, asserts there is power created when diverse views can be integrated into an intergenerational perspective.
So how can inexperienced leaders build a well-integrated, intergenerational and collaborative team? Here are a few tips:
- Strengthen your coaching relationship with your supervisor.
- Seek multiple leadership development opportunities. Don’t wait for your employer to offer you these opportunities.
- Take time to build trust levels within your team by creating a strategy that will allow you to build as many authentic relationships as possible.
- Take time to understand your coworkers’ differences in values and skills. Carefully position differences as assets, not obstacles.
- Sometimes persons are in roles because they have mastered a skill but they are not passionate about their work. Take the time to understand what persons are passionate about and to the extent you can, align them with work that inspires them.
- Strengthen your communication channels, be deliberate in using tools that all generations within your workplace can appreciate. For example, when it comes to communication, some will appreciate instant messages, and others will appreciate face-to-face conversations. So inexperienced leaders need to get acquainted with the diverse communication needs of your team. One size does not fit them all.
- If you are in an environment where there is over-use of criticism, this will limit the growth and engagement of your team. Learn to use coaching conversations that show respect for the resourcefulness of each member of your team.
With the right developmental support, inexperienced leaders can positively impact their teams, and even take performance to a new level, creating meaningful change.
Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an Organizational Effectiveness Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach, Author, and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. If you are interested Yvette's ideas on other leadership topics you can sign up for her newsletter at www.yvettebethel.com or you can listen to her podcast at Evolve Podcast.