This is a typical problem that young and ambitious managers that have just been promoted face. It’s completely normal that at some point in your manager career this happens – whether you like it or not. You’re either promoted from your old team or you have just been hired into a new one – no matter which is which, you will most often have someone in your team that is older than you are. You may be in the lucky situation where this person doesn’t want your job (is either satisfied with his current one or doesn’t feel strong enough to lead a team) or you may be constantly watching your back as this team member was your competitor during the assessment and is waiting for you to make a mistake just to prove to your managers that your promotion wasn’t such a great idea.
My advice comes to help you in the latter situation. So, what to do? Quit? Reject the promotion you’ve been working for such a long while? Absolutely NOT. If they promoted you, you must be good and you must deserve it, so be proud of it and act as a manager – make the team work together with you and deal with their frustrations in a diplomatic manner. If you run away, you will learn nothing out of this experience and the next time you apply for a new promotion, your current fears will overcome you once again. So, here’s what to do:
· Involve the team members you fear most in your projects – make them feel more important than the rest of the team; seek their advice, ask for their opinion and even try to implement their suggestions if they are good; if not, explain to them why they are not – make them realize that in your position you have a larger picture and they will understand in the end;
· Transform these older team members into change agents – meaning that you should explain your vision to them, make them improve it and embrace it, ask them to implement it into the team and reward them constantly (individually and publicly where necessary) for their success;
· Delegate important tasks to these team members – again make them feel important and make them get a taste of what your job is like; this will make your job easier and also they will understand the challenges you face and will support you more than if you impose some actions on them; dictatorship most of the times ends in a “blood bath” – this sounds war like, but you get what I mean – they will try desperately to sabotage your every decision and your image as a manager;
· Whenever you get the chance, show them your knowledge – if you got the promotion, then it was for a reason – identify your strengths (your manager or the promoting committee can help) and try to make these visible to the team – whether you have great decision skills, you are a great organizer, you are stronger and don’t fear a direct talk with the client, whatever it is, make sure the team know your strengths;
· Be open minded and admit your mistakes if you make any. Accept constructive criticism and thank those team members that discuss openly with you about mistakes, change and solutions.
Please feel free to add any new suggestions to my list from your experience. I am looking forward to your comments.