6 Surprising Reasons Younger Managers Perform Best

This article is a must read for anyone ever doubted of their skills, knowledge and expertise, because of their age. As a young professional myself I feel like I’m constantly running into this issue. At age 22 I was managing a team of 10 as an assistant manager of a retail bank and every day I had to prove myself and my abilities to successfully operate a branch. The article discusses six reasons why younger managers perform better than their more experienced, older counterparts. Many assume that a veteran leader would be more effective at their role, but the data presented in a Harvard Business Review proves the contrary.

  1. Welcome change: The author found that younger leaders embrace change and are successful at marketing their new ideas.

My 2 cents: This past summer I was unfortunate to be a part of an exhausting project (mostly frustrating due to its poor execution) and I wasn’t afraid to make recommendations and suggestions. The management team was very much opposed to implementing any new ideas, because they are very much stuck in what seems like the Stone Age of Project Management. A younger leader might have been more optimistic about innovative proposals and encouraged creativity.

  1. Inspiring Behavior: Older colleagues more often lead with a “push” rather than a “pull” approach. Younger managers know how to engage their employees and inspire greater effort and excitement about production.

My 2 cents: Back in my retail banking days I had the privilege to work for a younger, vibrant manager. I enjoyed her management style as the incorporated contests and games to motivate the team to not only meet, but exceed our sales goals. She wasn’t afraid to try new methods to stimulate production and as a results she was always ranked amongst the highest performing production managers.

  1. Receptive to Feedback: younger managers are more open minded to receiving feedback as opposed to their older counterparts. They asked more frequently for performance advice and expected more detailed response.

My 2 cents: I can definitely relate to that statement although I’m not managing employees. I am the youngest in my department and I recall how much longer my annual review meeting took as compared to my co-workers. I probably annoyed my director with my multiple questions, but “you are doing awesome” wasn’t going to cut it for me. I wanted to know details as to where I stack up amongst my peers and what I needed to do to get to that next level.

To read the remaining 3 reasons – continuous improvement, results focused and elevate goals please refer to the article http://www.forbes.com/sites/joefolkman/2015/10/01/6-surprising-reasons-younger-managers-perform-best/print/

Have you experienced working for either a younger or older manager where the discussed characteristics were apparent? Which management style did you find more effective and/or you preferred?

Reference: Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joefolkman/2015/10/01/6-surprising-reasons-younger-managers-perform-best/

12 thoughts on “6 Surprising Reasons Younger Managers Perform Best

  1. Vel, thank you for this insightful blog and article on young project managers (the underdogs). I agree for the most part that younger individuals are more refreshing and adaptable to change, and always have something to prove. These reasons remind me of that old phrase “young at heart.” I have to think of it that way, because I’m no spring chicken. So rather than just focus on age itself, I have found the most successful project managers I have worked for are still flexible, still seek feedback, still want continuous improvement, and the other reasons explained. I prefer a hybrid of both experience and “young at heart” so that the growth is continual (and effective working).

  2. Vel, thank you for sharing this great blog. From my experience I have to say that younger managers DO NOT perform better. Again, this is my experience that I’m basing my opinion on. Young managers think and act like they “know it all”, and it is “their way or a highway”. No respect for co-workers, just rude. Oh, and don’t get me started when somebody points out that they made a mistake, are you kidding me, they are not open-minded to receiving any negative feedback.

    I think older managers are much easier to work with. In my current position we have both, younger and older. Older managers are as eager to accept change and new technology as the younger ones. They can take criticism well and they don’t have that “I know it all” attitude.

    I absolutely prefer to work with more experienced managers. I find them much easier to talk to. The work that is being done by older managers is the same, if not better, if a younger manager was leading the team.

  3. Vel, interesting blog. On my opinion or from my experience I believe older mangers perform better. I had a young manager before and things were not focused at all. My recent manager felt he ways always right about everything no matter the problem. I think older managers are easier to work with due to their level of knowledge in the work field. Even though younger adults catch on much faster with technology rising in the workforce. My supervisor now is always open to new ideas and always willing to sit down and talk about problems faced on the job.

  4. Vel, thank you for sharing this article. I love it!!! I believe that many corporations use this approach of “younger leaders embrace change and are successful at marketing their new ideas.” I think that each generation is different and brings great ideas to the table. I am a believer that a younger leader will manage the team/corporation better than the one that has been working for that corporation for years. Everyone loves new ideas! My experience involves working with older management but I was lucky enough to have them embrace “younger ideas” without any hesitation.

  5. Hey Vel! Great post, and to answer your question, yes, I have had 2 managers (presently and previously) younger than me. The one prior, is light years away from a majority of managers that I have worked with i, and he has a sage like presence, who is trapped in a 26 year old body. His advice, and guidance has always championed team work, and collaboration and pushed us to embrace change. I will probably never have a manager like him again, but also loved seeing my new manager come into her role. She has a completely different approach, but also loves to collaborate with teammates, and makes us think of ways to be innovative and less dependent on the status-quo. Great article!

  6. Great post Vel! I’m somewhere in the middle I had 2 different young managers in 2 different banks they we completely different, I think that beside of the generation, personality and organizational culture (if the manager has been working there for some time) also have great impact in the way a manager perform and interact with their employees and peers. One of the managers was like you describe in your post, embracing change, and receptive to feedback, but the other one was the opposite really closed and even disrespectful sometimes. Great article, i’m sure we will continue getting mixed thoughts about this topic.

  7. Great topic selection, Vel! You definitely struck a nerve with this post. The article is full of ageist generalities with which I disagree. I believe that maturity level is more important than chronological age for someone to be an effective leader. While maturity correlates with age, I’ve also met people in their 20s that are more mature than their counterparts in their 50s. I would also disagree that youth makes a person more receptive to feedback. I’ve worked with peers much older than me who desperately seek feedback to improve their performance, and I’ve managed people in their 20s with incredible arrogance that were essentially uncoachable. Also, “results focused” can be a trap. What’s the point of achieving goals at any cost, while leaving behind the bodies of co-workers “killed” in the process? I agree that complacency is a potential serious hindrance to progress any organization, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

  8. Great article Vel. A few years ago I worked for a manager who was considerably younger than me and the rest of the team. He was well respected within the company and knew how to get things done. Like you mentioned in your article, this manager welcomed change and had an inspiring behavior. He treated his team not like employees, but as his friends. I recall him inviting us over to his home for a cookout, and on another occasion he took us out for go-carting. Therefore, what you are stating may have some truth to it. I have had managers of different ages. My current manager is almost my age, and I notice that sometimes it is easier to communicate with someone that is of the same age, versus someone that is older. This is not to say that older project managers perform poorly. They do have experience and can teach teams how not to make the same mistakes. Young or old, I believe if you have the right skills to be a great manager, then you will be successful.

  9. Hi Vel,

    I have to agree with everyone else, great choice on the article! I certainly think having managers around the same age helps easily build rapport. Having common ground and being in similar phases of life can assist with developing and furthering that relationship. Ultimately, I do tend to think that it always comes down to the personality of the individual, their backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses. Age is just one factor in a complex spectrum of influences that drives managerial prowess and employee engagement. Great stuff!

  10. What a great article! For the first 4 years of my career I had only reported to managers that were 40 years and older. But, for the past 6 months I have had the benefit of reporting to a young, 32 year old manager who just gets it. Whereas previous manager struggled with change, exhibited “push” behavior, and almost never listened to what I had to say, my current manager succeeds and excels at these skills. I think that core reason for his effectiveness is that he tries to see things through my eyes. Whether it’s a back office issue or customer-facing issue, my manager lends his assistance in a constructive manner that focuses on me and not him. I hope this form of management becomes the new norm and that someday I can continue its trend.

  11. Hi Vel, interesting post! I’ve only had older managers in my work history and I can say it’s been good and bad. The good was that they were very knowledgeable in the field however the bad was that they didn’t like change so it became a power struggle on how to handle situations. My current manager is older than me and is open to change- which is a good combo and hope that all managers are like that.

  12. Vel, this is a very eye opening article and analysis. I will definitely be using points from this to make the case for my next promotion :). I especially liked the point of push vs pull as managers need to focus more on inspiring good work instead of forcing their own agenda.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *