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Working for a younger manager - Utilising coaching techniques

Coaching is not about directing, telling, or advising. Coaching is about asking open questions, revealing the dynamics of a situation, enabling someone to make sense of what is occurring, and inspiring them to generate ideas. You can do this in a professional setting without wearing the “coaching hat,” so to speak, but simply by using questions to stimulate awareness and thoughtfulness. Being asked to articulate something often enables a person to re-examine their assumptions and decisions in a more objective way. By facilitating this, you leverage your experience while supporting your manager in a constructive way.

Be wary of investing too heavily in your manager’s actions, however. There is a time to let go and allow your manager find his or her own way. As long as you have tried to raise awareness of an important situation and have acted in a supportive way, you have fulfilled your role.

Make Light of Situations
Do not take things too personally. If a young manager misunderstands your sensitivities or appears to undervalue the experience you offer, let it go or make light of it. Let your manager know that you are on his or her side. As a direct report who is more experienced, you are in a very good position to set the tone of the relationship. Ensure that your communication methods reflect an easygoing style. It is amazing how much you can relay in a light, humorous comment. Avoid sarcasm and irony, however, and keep it authentic.

Facilitate Success
Your manager’s success is your success. Try to be supportive and seek opportunities to help your manager be seen as successful. Talking about achievements and accomplishments, especially within your network of co-workers, can serve both you and your manager well.
Change can be difficult because it requires letting go of something familiar and replacing it with something that is unfamiliar. To avoid feeling threatened, it is important to take the time to rethink and readjust. Try to look forward and see the benefits brought by change—and anticipate some unexpected advantages.
What to Avoid

You Assume You Know Better
Assuming that you know better than your younger manager because you are older and wiser is a mistake. The value you contribute is not age, nor is it necessarily wisdom; the value you offer is your ability to excel at your job. Try to see your new circumstances as a learning opportunity that could take you into exciting new territory.

You Feel Slighted
If you perceive the situation of working for a younger manager as a slight on you or your performance, problems will result. Harboring these feelings will cause you to act and behave as if you have been slighted. Even if you think you are being subtle, your verbal communication and body language will give away your true feelings. This will inevitably create tension between you and your manager, which will be very counterproductive and potentially harmful to your career.

You Reject New Ideas
The refusal to consider new ideas from a younger manager is a bad position to adopt. It may be seen as a passive aggressive act that is designed to make him or her fail. You may be more aware of past unsuccessful initiatives and resentful of repeating the process. However, try to adopt a positive view and help your manager to explore his or her new ideas openly and constructively.

You Live in the Past
Reminiscing and telling war stories is not always interesting or helpful. Furthermore, this behavior can be an indication that you are backward-looking and have a sentimental attachment to the way things used to be. Make a conscious effort to look to the future and demonstrate a forward-thinking attitude.

You Assume a Lack of Talent or Experience
More experienced professionals tend to assume that their younger counterparts lack sufficient talent or experience to succeed. However, this is often a mistaken assumption. Different opportunities, challenges, and developmental experiences give rise to different perspectives and strengths. Many young people bring a richness to their work that defies their years. Avoid rushing to judgment about a new, younger manager. Instead, remain open to the possibility that they have an unexpectedly wide range of talents and abilities that, while possibly different from your own, may enrich and improve your role, contribution and/or work environment.

Reference :BNET Editorial courtesy of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica

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