How to Build Your Reputation as a Millennial Manager

Photo credit: Big Stock/pinkypills

’Tis the season for promotions, performance reviews, and last-quarter profit results, and if you’re a first-time manager, you may be starting to feel the pressure to prove yourself worthy of the job. Millennials especially are facing increased scrutiny as to how we will perform when put in leadership roles (This Is How Millennials Will Change Management, 7 Ways Millennial Managers Will Change Work, and 5 Tips to Better Understand Millennial Managers, just to name a few), and as a generation that has been called disloyal and lazy, millennials aren’t exactly being set up for success.

If you’re a first-time manager, BULLIT wants to help you build your reputation and give you the tools for making your team and your projects successful, regardless of the naysayers who think millennials won’t be up to task. Feedback is one of the most important tools in your professional arsenal, and we built our platform to give you full advantage of being able to give and receive advice from your network.

With BULLIT, you can begin to build your reputation — and personal brand — as a trustworthy, effective leader that teams will trust and with whom clients will want to work. Evidence shows that strong management has a direct impact on bottom line results and company cultures: and nothing is more critical to leading a team well than feedback. If you’re just learning the ropes on how to manage a team, here are our tips for building your reputation as a strong leader and bringing out the best in the teams you’re managing.

Learn how to deliver feedback…

Matt Straz, CEO and Founder of Namely, writes that “Managers are overly cautious when it comes time to give constructive feedback because they think employees will react badly to what they have to say. But the absence of feedback isn’t necessarily a matter of negativity — it’s a matter of delivery.” The majority of employees want corrective feedback, but more often than not, managers are discouraged to give negative feedback because it can be a hard thing to deliver.

With BULLIT, we want to make it simple to give someone constructive advice. If you’re not comfortable speaking directly to the person, but you feel you have something important to say, use BULLIT: your feedback will be anonymous, and the recipient can decide whether to keep that feedback public — and respond with their own comments — or to mark it as hidden and keep your comments to themselves. The structure of BULLIT’s review system can also help guide you in giving feedback in a way that’s constructive, and not totally subjective.

…and deliver it in a timely manner

We’ve already discussed that the importance of feedback isn’t just in how you deliver it, or what you say, but in its frequency. Author and “crucial conversations” guru Joseph Grenny published a piece in Harvard Business Review and found that “The primary reason people struggle with giving and receiving feedback is not a lack of proficiency but of frequency.” He also discovered that the teams that constantly keep each other accountable are more financially successful.

As a manager, you can encourage feedback to be a part of your team’s daily operations. BULLIT is a quick, informal way to show someone you appreciated the way they stepped up to the big client presentation, or to tell someone that constantly showing up late to your team meetings is unacceptable (without it becoming a big dramatic moment). Waiting until the end of the year to spring that on someone does much more harm than good. “Making employees wait 12 months to hear how they’re performing contributes to the main problem at hand: Employees don’t know if they’re doing their jobs well.”

Be human

A recent Fast Company article argues that trustworthy leaders are people who show they have a willingness to change, listen, and understand. If you want to be seen as a strong manager, be someone who can take the good and the bad — and evolve. “By showing a measure of vulnerability and willingness to admit when you’re wrong or need help shows that you’re human and helps people more easily relate to you” says Timothy G. Wiedman, a former corporate manager and associate professor of management and human resources at Doane University.

One way to show you’re human? You guessed it: solicit feedback from your teams. It can be hard as a first-time manager to ask for feedback when you’re just starting to find your way, but on BULLIT, you can ask your whole network to help you course correct, and hide any reviews you wish. It’s a safe way to get honest information you need about your performance before you get to the end of the year and there’s no way to turn back. Anonymous reviews also level the playing field: you won’t risk weighing one person’s opinion or discrediting another’s because of their professional relationship to you. It’s the best way to get an instant snapshot of your performance in a safe space.

“Develop” your employees

Judith Sherven, PhD and Executive Coach, writes that developing your employees is no longer just about holding them accountable for good work and promoting them when you can. Good managers approach “career development” more holistically: “‘career development’ no longer simply means helping your team members do good work and occasionally promoting them. It now must include coaching, mentoring, and even a bit of old-fashioned therapy when needed.” Not totally sure about the old-fashioned therapy part, but we see where she’s going with this.

As a manager, you’re responsible for a lot of moving parts. But, arguably, the most important part that you need to pay attention to is your people — they impact everything else your team is charged with achieving. So think about them as people — people with soft skills, like leadership, imagination, and their own definition of urgency. Give them the feedback that will develop them as humans, and not as robots.

Have your employees’ backs

At the end of the day, feedback works when backed up by a feeling of community on a team. As FastCo writes, “Encourage feedback — even when it’s difficult to hear — and create an environment where they feel secure. When they are having challenges at work, provide the support, training, or resources they need to improve. And if they’re facing an unfair or otherwise disruptive situation, go to bat for them to make it right.” Be straight with your employees in how you help them improve, but also give them the right space and tools they need to grow.

Being a first-time manager, especially as a millennial, can feel overwhelming. But by acting with the best intentions, constantly communicating with your coworkers, and being open to tough discussions, you can create an environment where your team feels appreciated, challenged, and inspired by each other. And when you get that level of teamwork, the results will show.

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