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Younger managers and employers

Taking on management responsibilities at work can be an exciting and difficult challenge for anyone, but sometimes it can be even tougher if you are a younger manager. Not only do you have to deal with learning about the management role and cope with the move from staff member to manager, but sometimes you also have to deal with the attitudes of other staff members.

Sometimes you will become the manager of your friends, or colleagues you used to work with, and you need to be aware of the change in your relationship and how you communicate that to them. Often you may be managing staff who are older than you which can present a set of challenges - some of your colleagues may resent your new role as their manager, particularly if they have worked there longer than you, others might make negative comments about your ability to manage the team because of your age.

While many new managers will move easily to their new roles, others may experience problems that you should be aware of and be ready to address.

A good manager can ensure the smooth running of a business and improve staff satisfaction. As a new manager, developing your management skills and knowledge will help you succeed in your role and navigate the difficult situations that can arise in any workplace.

Communication, motivation and organisation are all key management skills and can help you to contribute to a positive workplace environment and increased productivity.

Key points

  • It can be challenging moving from being a worker to a manager.
  • You may have to manage your friends and more experienced staff who are older than you.
  • It's important to know about key management policies in your organisation, for example Absence Management and Discipline & Grievance.
  • Learn about management skills that will help you do your job, for example how to motivate staff and how to have difficult conversations.
  • This page simply introduces some common issues for new managers, you should use Acas e-learning and other online resources to learn more and improve your management skills.

Absence management

One of the first things you may have to deal with as a new manager is staff being absent from work, this is a common management issue with people being absent, on average, for 6.9 days a year (CIPD Absence Survey 2015).

People are absent from work for 3 main reasons.

  • They are sick.
  • They feel unable to come to work because of family or caring responsibilities.
  • They are on authorised leave such as holiday, maternity leave or a training course.

Unauthorised absence is normally the "odd day off" when employees give no reason for the absence. Whether paid or unpaid this type of absence can be costly to an organisation as it is unpredictable. Absence of this kind may eventually lead to disciplinary action.

How to minimise absence and lateness

The best way to try to minimise absence is to talk to your staff to find out about any underlying issues that may be causing the absence. This could be done as part of a return to work interview.

If someone is frequently off sick, it may be worth asking them if there is a long-term health problem you should be aware of, or whether there is anything causing them to be ill so regularly. Employees with a disability may be entitled to reasonable adjustments around trigger points for absence management.

Someone with responsibility for looking after a family member or neighbour might be legally entitled to unpaid time off to look after them in an emergency. But that doesn't mean they are free to repeatedly leave their employer and colleagues in the lurch. If someone's outside responsibilities are preventing them from doing the work you need them to do, it's appropriate to have a conversation with them about making sure they are meeting their contracted responsibilities.

It's a common misconception that you can't take someone through a disciplinary or capability process if they are off sick. If frequent or long-term absence is causing difficulties in the workplace, it's appropriate to discuss this with the employee. However, the way you handle these conversations should reflect the employee's situation and Acas always encourages an informal resolution of such issues.

Engaging positively with people who are not well can encourage them to get back to work, and employees who feel they are missed when they are away are less likely to take sick days.

Discipline and Grievance

Sometimes things can go wrong at work and as a manager you will get involved in dealing with problems your staff are having. A good working knowledge of discipline and grievance procedures is essential for all managers in order to deal effectively with problems at work.

Although discipline and grievance are generally grouped together, they are actually two different things. If a member of your team is not performing as they should be (for example they haven't met their targets or have a poor absence record) you may have to take disciplinary action against them.

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint that a member of your team might raise with you. It could be about another member of the team, another member of staff or something in the workplace.

Quite often these problems can be sorted out informally by talking to your staff and agreeing a way forward. Most organisations have their own discipline and grievance policies for you to follow, plus there is guidance on the Acas website and an Acas Code of Practice to help you do things properly.

Having Difficult Conversations

You may find yourself in a situation where you have to give an employee bad news. These conversations can range from significant issues such as cutting someone's hours or making them redundant, to more minor issues such as not being able to give someone the leave they requested.

Whatever the topic, how you approach the conversation can have a big impact on how the difficult message is delivered and received. The main thing you should do is address the issue and not put off dealing with it, as delaying dealing with problems may make the matter worse. You need to prepare properly for the meeting, have all the information you need to hand and try to anticipate any questions you might be asked. When you do meet with them, it's important to communicate the issue really clearly so they know what the problem is. Give them the opportunity to respond and listen to what they say but don't lose sight of what your issue is.

Performance Management

Managing performance is central to the relationship between managers and employees. It can be a key element of good communication and foster the growth of trust and personal development. Managing performance is key to how well your employees will be engaged in their work and how well they will perform.

Where a performance management system is working well employees are more likely to engage with the goals of the business. An engaged employee is someone who:

  • takes pride in their job and shows loyalty towards their line manager, team or organisation
  • goes the extra mile - particularly in areas like customer service, or where employees need to be creative, responsive or adaptable.

Good performance management helps everyone in the organisation to know:

  • what the business is trying to achieve
  • their role in helping the business achieve its goals
  • the skills and competencies they need to fulfil their role
  • the standards of performance required
  • how they can develop their performance and contribute to development of the organisation
  • how they are doing
  • when there are performance problems and what to do about them.

Resources that will help you

Communications

Managers need to communicate information to employees about:

  • contractual terms and conditions of employment
  • the job and its performance
  • the organisation's performance, progress and prospects
  • changes to any of the above issues.

Employees will also have concerns and points they wish to raise about their jobs and the organisation and there should be provision for communicating this information to managers.

Age discrimination

Younger managers can sometimes experience discrimination at work due to their age. However, you can, and should, expect to get treated fairly by your employer and colleagues and not be discriminated against or harassed. There are laws to protect you from that sort of behaviour and often your employer will have rules about how to act in the workplace to try to stop discrimination and harassment.

If you are a younger manager there may be 'jokes' about your age or your level of experience and it can be difficult to deal with. If this does happen, try talking to the people who are making the comments and resolve it informally. It is not always possible to deal with the situation yourself so you may need to speak to your own manager for support and a way to resolve it.

Resources that will help you