Most young managers feel their staff lack confidence in them

19 Sep 2018 By Lauren Brown

Survey indicates young leaders feel there is a ‘cap on their potential’

Seven in ten (68 per cent) UK managers aged between 20 and 24 feel their age diminishes their colleagues’ confidence in them as a manager, research revealed yesterday. 

The study, conducted by Avado Learning in collaboration with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), also found 15 per cent of 16 to 25 year olds were ‘quite unconfident’ in their management capabilities. The same proportion of that age group said they had asked their employer for more training but had not received it. 

Dean Corbett, chief people officer at Avado, said he did not believe tackling these issues was exclusively the responsibility of the HR function, but added it was “a commercial imperative”. 

“On a basic human level, no one should be made to feel there is a cap on their potential,” he added. “It might be suggested by some that a lot of previous attempts have been box-ticking exercises. To address this, businesses need to be clearer and more direct about action.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea added: "Employers must make sure their managers have the best possible support, so that no one is ever made to feel they're not up to the job.”

She recommended businesses run regular courses to tackle any sexist or ageist beliefs, adding it is vital to make sure recruitment processes encourage anyone with suitable experience to apply.

The Avado research also found women were five times more likely to feel their gender hindered confidence in them, while a fifth (20 per cent) of female managers admitted they would rather be managed by a man.

Almost half (48 per cent) of men surveyed said they were very confident in their management skills, compared with just 30 percent of women.

Denise Keating, CEO of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (enei), said it was increasingly common for young leaders to be faced with the challenge of managing groups older than them, but she added the task could be harder for women. 

“Younger women may well experience a double whammy if they are leading a predominantly male team, with the need to handle a potent cocktail of sexism and reverse ageism,” she said. “When appointing younger managers it is therefore crucial that they are provided with appropriate training and support, and providing them with a mentor may be helpful.” 

Keating added that managers should also be encouraged to address the issue of ageism directly with their teams if they encounter difficulties.

Research conducted by Cloverpop previously linked diverse, inclusive teams with better business performance. It found that when decision-making, diverse teams of three or more people outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87 per cent of the time.

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