I received my first management position at the age of 22. I thought I had it all together. I just graduated from undergrad, had my own place, car, money, and now I was the boss at work. But I sucked as a manager. I thought I was prepared to manage others because I had gained plenty of leadership skills while I was apart of various organizations in college. Unfortunately, being president or a leader in a campus organization is totally different from being a boss for a company, especially when the people that you lead are older than you. The skill of management is something that is deep-rooted in some, and developed over time by others. While I know I was born to lead, I can look back now and see that there were so many things that I should have and could have done better.
Fast forward to a few years later, I have gained more experiences as a manager, and I have even received a few promotions along the way (so I guess I didn't suck that bad). Nonetheless, I have taken my good, bad, and veryugly experiences in management as a learning experience and as a challenge to become even better.
From my years in management, I have learned that doing the work can be easy, but learning how to manage, develop, and motivate people is not always a piece of cake.
Listed below are a few pieces of nontraditional advice from a modern, Millennial manager that's in her 20s. By reading this, you will learn some of the things that I wish someone would have told me, and you will learn how to not make the same mistakes that I made.
1. Always be prepared to answer the "How old are you?" question.
I can guarantee you that if you haven't received this question yet, you will definitely get it once you are in a management position. While some people consider it rude to ask someone their age, people still do it all the time. If someone asks you this, I recommend that you answer it with confidence and honesty. Don't lie about your age to seem more "mature or qualified." Brian Wong, a young entrepreneur, mentioned in an article that if you look at your age as a crutch or disadvantage it will become one. But if you look at it as a positive thing, it will be a positive thing.
2. Don't try to learn by example.
I think the biggest mistake that I made when I became a manager was trying to emulate how my boss led when she was the manager. When you are new to management, you will not find a lesson on managing people that is unique to you. Completely clueless on what to do, I copied my boss' management style, and I expected to receive the same amount of success as a boss. Of course, this did not work. It wasn't until I analyzed myself to see what my likes, dislikes, skills, and values were that I became a better manager. I learned that people truly lead differently, and what worked for one manager may not work as well for you. If you are impressed with your boss' management style, ask him or her for advice and tips, but also see what works for you.
3. Adjust your management type.
There is not a cookie-cutter style in managing people (trust me, I know). Organizations are filled with diverse people with different backgrounds and personalities. How you reprimand or show praise to one person will not work for another. Studies show that different generations work differently, and being aware of this is important as a manager. In your company, you may be a Millennial, and may manage older people in other generations like Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and older Millennials.
Studies show that Baby Boomers are known to choose work over personal life. They typically do not trust authority, but they can be open to change. They love receiving personal gratification, and at work they normally have a sense of entitlement. Generation Xers are considered the “slacker" generation. They naturally question authority figures and believe in the concept of work/life balance. They also tend to be more independent than other generation groups. Millennials are known to be very team-oriented, are easily bored, loves challenging work, and seeks gratification in their work.
As a young manager, you will supervise people in different generations so it is important to know what their work style is like, and how you can adapt your management style to be an effective leader.
4. Be confident and don't be afraid to delegate.
You have been given the opportunity to lead, and it wasn't given to you by mistake. When I first became a manager, I wasn't only the youngest manager in my office, but all of my subordinates were at least 10-15 years older than me (and some even had more years of work experience). I would be lying if I told you I wasn't intimidated at first because I definitely was. I felt slightly inadequate and I was a little too nice. My timid and overly nice personality started to become second nature, so I didn't notice that I was a pushover. If you are feeling like you may be a pushover, I would advise that you find more self-confidence, and believe in the power of your role and your responsibility to be a fearless leader. Also, do not be scared to delegate.
5. Good bosses know how to get the work done, and delegate when necessary.
Delegation was also a skill that I didn't have when I first became a boss, but I quickly learned my lesson. I remember when I first started out in management, I thought it was my responsibility to literally do everything since ultimately I was responsible for everybody and each project. It wasn't until I realized that I wasn't getting any sleep, was skipping out on lunch, and saw my assistant pinning away on Pinterest during work that I knew a change was needed. I realized that my lack of delegation was not only exhausting and hurting me, but it was also hurting my employee. Failing to delegate prevents employees from learning and stifles their professional growth. It doesn't matter how old an employee is, they can still professionally develop, and it is your responsibility to equip them with the right tools to do so.
6. Know when to ask for help.
When I realized that I was failing as a manager, I reached out to other managers, and looked up self-help articles online. I also talked with my boss and discussed my concerns. I wasn't afraid or ashamed to admit that I wasn't doing a good job, and neither should you. The advice that I got from other people was extremely helpful, and it showed me things about myself that I didn't notice.
7. Ask your team for feedback.
A good boss or leader is open to criticism, feedback, and finds both necessary to grow. As a boss, it's okay to be vulnerable and seek advice from your employees. Whenever I have one-on-ones, I always ask my employees if there is anything that I could do better, or if they need anything from me to be successful. This is a question that not only helps me out and teaches me to be better, but it shows your employees that you are open-minded and value their opinion. I've learned that asking this question is favorable among my older employees because it gives them a chance to be heard.
If you are a young boss, what other tips do you have when leading older generations? Drop a comment below and share the knowledge!
Featured image by Getty Images
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Kimora Lee Simmons has been ripping the runway and defining streetwear culture for decades, and with her daughter, Aoki Lee Simmons, blazing a trail of her own, the supermodel is imparting a few gems to guide her along the way.
During this year’s Teen Vogue Summit 2023, Kimora joined her daughter Aoki in a conversation about navigating the modeling industry and fostering her children’s dreams.
Kimora shares how she’s been able to joyfully watch as her daughter achieves her greatest goals over the years, including becoming Teen Vogue’s September 2023 cover star. In doing so, the runway star reflects on the natural instinct of mothers to desire success for their children but expresses her commitment to letting her daughters make mistakes while providing support.
"It's a mom's natural instinct to want to impose your expectations on your kids. But I'm learning to let my kids make their mistakes and serve as their support,” Kimora shared. “As a mom, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. I just try my best and make sure that the wisdom I pass down comes from a good source."
The Baby Phat founder went on to express concerns about her daughter Aoki's modeling career, fearing she may encounter the “cutthroat” nature of the industry that can cause those within it to feel like they’re not “enough.”
With this in mind, she often reminds Aoki, “to understand that in life you will face rejection because this industry can be so cutthroat. For some, you won't be cool enough, tall enough, or petite enough. I've definitely had my ugly duckling days."
(L-R) Ming Lee Simmons, Aoki Lee Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons attend the Prabal Gurung show during New York Fashion Week: The Show.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows
Although the fashion mogul has managed to balance being in the public eye since she began her modeling career at the age of 13, along with motherhood and running an era-shaping clothing brand, it’s apparent that Kimora understands the importance of staying grounded. “Truly, who even cares?! Easier said than done. I never want her to have to deal with that part of the industry but all I can do is prepare her,” she says.
When you’ve been in the fashion game long enough to set the trends and see them come full circle, it’s natural to desire a level of evolution within the space — from the clothes to the culture. And while Kimora has seen how far the industry has come, she hopes for greater inclusion and support within the industry; especially for women of color.
“Fashion is an ever-changing industry with the same pitfalls. For women of color specifically, it's changed so much but we still have so far to go,” she says. “These brands claim to always have been so inclusive but that doesn't always pan out to be true. I wish people would practice what they preach.”
Featured image by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Teen Vogue