18 July 2022

Being a young Manager

Author: Simone Moscato – International Part Time MBA student

Let me start by making a premise: the present article is not about me but comes from my direct experience with some talented, young professionals I have been lucky enough to meet. Well, for the sake of clarity, the cases I refer to are based only on merit!

Whenever, after long years of hard work and dedication, an employee reaches a position of high responsibility, it is usually expected that the upgrade will be accepted by everybody, without any particular objections.

It is a different story when a person without the “minimum” seniority commonly required for a certain position gets the chance to cover a role with a high level of responsibility. Several problems will be confronted, many unexpected situations will happen requiring quick resolution, leadership skills will be exploited to the maximum, high levels of stress must be properly managed and, most of all, it will be required that everything is always under control (sometimes even if this means faking it…).

How can our young hero succeed in his mission? How can they compensate for their lack of experience with their distinctive quick wit?

In the last two years, after starting my path on the Part-Time MBA course at the POLIMI Graduate School of Management, I have had the opportunity to interact with many young professionals involved in the management field. At the MBA classes, I shared my point of view and thoughts with my fellow students. Every member of the group is interested in understanding the others’ work environment, since one of the aims of an MBA candidate is the pursuit of a new work reality. Considering that the average age of the participants is around 33-34, I was surprised to find out that several of them were already holding managerial roles with high responsibilities. Finally, the icing on the cake, I have been assigned a talented young manager as supervisor by the company I work for.

I have noticed that the first prejudices tend to arise whenever conflicts are started, when the young manager deals with a number of parties: contractors, members of a team, the client (i.e. in service companies), or, simply, a higher level of management. The level of pressure rises considerably, and it’s easy for the counterparts to think that “she/he doesn’t have the experience to resolve this issue”.

So, the first thing the young manager should keep in mind is that, even admitting the actual lack of experience, it has been her/his natural attitude in problem solving that enabled her/him to get the management role.

There are, then, two possible scenarios: the one which is easier to handle transpires when the manager’s brief experience enables her/him to address similar issues, so that the source of the conflict can easily be resolved; if, on the other hand, she/he is not familiar with the case in point it will be considered as a new challenge, and therefore what is needed is: a full understanding of the root cause, the studying of the resolution, and an attempt to convert the problem into a new opportunity for the company. In conclusion: basic strategy.

After observing how the young managers behaved in several real cases, I started to understand that there’s no single way to deal with complex matters, but the following fixed points could be helpful every time a conflict or an unexpected problem arises:

  • stay calm – every situation needs to be analysed properly… before getting desperate!
  • be fully aware of your own limits and, most of all, accept them;
  • being a young manager requires higher dedication mostly at the initial stage, when the lack of experience is critical;
  • manage stress, do not work after hours;
  • continuous learning is crucial and cannot be avoided  ̶  additional studies can be helpful when the knowledge is well organized (i.e. the MBA), but so are the contributions coming from close managers and coordinators willing to share their experiences;
  • delegate and rely on more experienced people for all the technical issues but be their shield when they make mistakes;
  • never stop sharing your doubts with your team members.

The above points describe clearly what I believe to be the mindset of a humble professional. The POLIMI Graduate School of Management believes that this is the best approach for young managers who face challenging environments, as described in this article. The school incorporates this value deeply in the learning experience, but also in selecting the staff and the students themselves.

This ends my short insight into this topic; lastly, I think that even if at the beginning more complex responsibilities can seem too scary and stressful, after a while we always adapt to the new workload and its flow, optimising our time and efforts. And, one day, when looking back at our past selves, it will be clear how quickly these experiences helped us to improve our soft and hard skills.


18 July 2022

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