LEADING A TEAM OF OLDER (AND MORE EXPERIENCED) PEOPLE
Anthony is a young talent with an excellent performer and high potential.
Last month the CEO asked him to lead a business transformation project.
In the beginning he was very happy about it. This is a very important project with high visibility.
They assign for him, team members fron different functions involved in the transformation (Finance, HR, Sales, Operations, IT …etc).
This is a cross-functional project.
Then Anthony started his new role by leading hia first meeting.
Then … the disaster started ….
First, some of the team members did not even come to the meeting, some came late. So much for the respect that they have for Anthony, their “project leader”.
Next, during the meeting some team members did not show any respect to him, who is “younger” and has less “experienced”.
They never say that, but clearly … their body language, facial expression and eye contact just gave away too much.
Obviously the meeting did not end very well, they kept challenging Anthony almost for every single points that they discuss ….
– the objective to achieve
– how they will do it
– the deadline of the project
– the capacity/reasources that they need …
And the list goes on …
Anthony has to stop the meeting , when he observe the negative atmosphere happen during the meeting .
In the evening, Anthony went home and ask himself the questions …
– Is it a mistake to accept this project?
– Is he the right person to lead this important project?
– What he should do?
He is at the lowest point of his motivation.
This project kills his confidence (while he as an excellent performer with high potential).
Should he gave up?
I received Anthony’s message before my flight to Shanghai and thought how I can help him.
Luckily, I have been in his position before.
I lead a cross-functional team with members who are older and have more experiences than me.
Worse, some of them are European and American, and some of them did not show any respect to the Asian.
I was struggling (very hard), but in the end of the day, I managed to lead that team, and together we delivered the objective that was assigned to us.
So, Anthony, first advice.
DON’T GIVE UP!
You can be successfull.
You will struggle first. But it is normal.
You are not alone.
And remember, whatever that does not kill you, will hurt like hell, then it will make you stronger (in the end).
Anthony has to realize, this is a golden opportunity for him.
He has to make it a success.
The CEO trust him, not without a reason.
He must have received great feedback about Anton that made him confident about his decision.
He bet on Anthony, like many great CEOs, they bet on people.
Anthony has to prove that the CEO is not wrong. And I would not be surprised if another more exciting role (or challenge) will be waiting for Anthony.
So, Anthony, use this as your great learning opportunity.
Consider how lucky you are.
Off course, when you are learning, you might be frustrated, you mighy fail, you might fall.
But isn’it part of the learning.
Just remember, after this painful learning journey, the glory will be yours.
And the experience will be written with golden ink in your CV and it will be so valuable for the next steps of your career.
Now, what he should do? He can try the following tips …
DON’T ACT LIKE A BOSS (YET)
The first Anthony need to understand is why they behave like that.
Do not act like a boss yet.
Try to understand them.
Talk to them individually.
Listen to their concern.
Spend time with them in one to one and face to face session.
Listen, watch, observe and analyze their concern and suggestion.
PUT THE COMPANY INTEREST FIRST
This is not about which Ego will win. This is about how they achieve together thei objectives that were set, because it will be great for the company.
Put aside each individual agenda.
And start to act for the company.
REMIND EVERYBODY ABOUT WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVE
Anthony need to remind everybody the team’s objective.
It has to be crystal clear.
If they have any question, concern or suggestion, Anthony has to address and discuss.
If necessary get the clarity from the CEO.
There is no point to continue if the objective is not even clear.
4.ASK THEM HOW THEY THINK WE CAN ACHIEVE TOGETHER
Afte the “what” is clear, now Anthony need to discuss and get their input on “HOW” they will achieve the objectives together.
They are older and have more experiences. They like to be heard, they like to talk, and share their perspective.
Give them, that satisfaction to feed their “ego”.
That’s how you get them on board.
And on the positive note, they are the expert (representing their function). If you want the program to be “implementable” in every function, you better listen to them.
LEARN FROM THEM, LEARN FROM THEIR EXPERTISE
Use this opportunity also to develop your skills and improve your competence by learning from their expertise in their areas.
If we have 10 team members and each member has 10 years of working experiences, we have in total 100 years of experience in that team.
Would it be a waste if you dont learn from them.
Learn from them. Learn from their expertise, and ask them for one to one session if necessary.
By doing that, in the end of the project …
– the team achieved its objectives
– Anthony will improve his competences
SHOW YOUR CREDIBILITY BY SHOWING A STRONG PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS
This is now the time for Anthony to “show-off” his real characters.
The CEO directly chooses him, there must a be reason (if not plenty of reasons). Don’t disspoint the CEO.
Show credibility demosntrating your strong project management skills
– Objectives to achive
– Time line
– Role and responsibility
– Stakeholder mapping and engagement plan
– Help the team identifying the challenge and help them solve each challenge
– Update the progress regularly to the stakeholders (including the CEO) and share their feedbacks to the rest of the team
NOW, SHOW THAT YOU ARE A REAL LEADER
– Reward the good performer (and use themmas your alliés and change agents)
– COACH AND SEND THE STRONG MESSAGED to the bad performers (if necessary with escalation to their boss, but use this as your last resort).
Anthony, why don’t you try to apply the tips above and let me know how it worked.