I wrote this article for a specific situation: when you are younger and less experienced than others in your company – yet you need to coordinate a move for them. In other words, you are younger than the people you are organizing and leading. You might be a facility manager, responsible for on-going projects. Or, you might be an office manager, administrator, or in a position unrelated to moving. Your company or organization has given you the task of coordinating a move in an organized and efficient way so the rest of the company can stay focused on their jobs.
I often work with coordinators who are younger than I am – but more importantly, they are younger than the coworkers they are trying to lead. How they handle the differences in age and experience can determine the success of the the moving project – or at the least, determine how much they enjoy leading the project.
Let’s face it. In a work environment, a younger worker can be treated in a way that makes it hard for them to do a good job. Big Girl Now, wrote to Dear Abby for advice on handling a co-worker who treated her like a kid. She wrote Abby (Abigail Van Buren):
“I’m 25 years old, have my bachelor’s degree, bought a house and work a great full-time job. I think it is safe to say that I have established myself as an adult. However, an older co-worker seems to associate me with his grandchildren. He calls me ‘kiddo’ and ‘buddy.’ Instead of greeting me the way he does everyone else, he says, ‘Boo!’ I usually smile and nod in response because I’m not sure what response he expects. Recently he said, ‘You’re supposed to say, ‘Eek!’ I understand he’s being friendly, but it makes me uncomfortable. Should I continue to ignore it, or is there a polite way to ask him to stop?
– Big Girl Now.”
When it comes to coordinating an office or facility move, the stakes are raised. Your sense of confidence in what you are doing and the trust and respect of your fellow employees is essential. When a younger worker is given the task of coordinating an organization’s move, many people are depending on their success.
The age and experience of the move coordinator shouldn’t be the deciding factor in the success or failure of a move.
So, what if you are younger than those you are leading in the project?
How do you get a sense of confidence when you don’t really know what you are doing?
How do you learn what you are doing quickly? How do you get more experienced people to help you?
Can attitude make up for the lack of experience?
Here are five factors for your success.
1) Be Confident Your Boss Believes in You
Even if it seems like you got the job of move coordinator because no one else wanted it, there are good reasons why you got the job.
It’s true that some coworkers have gone through moves before or even led company moves before. It might appear they know much more than you do about moving. But, this is what you have to keep coming back to: you have the package of skills, attitude, experience, and availability that made you the best choice to coordinate the move.
Example: A woman in her 20’s told me her boss was already considering appointing her to coordinate the company’s move. He was convinced when he found out she had helped raise her four younger brothers and sisters while her single-mom mother worked. She got the job of move coordinator and he was right. She was a natural organizer of people and tasks.
“The courage of leadership is giving others the chance to succeed even though you bear the responsibility for getting things done.” -Simon Sinek
2) Believe Your Coworkers Want You to Succeed
Even if they grumble about how things are all messed up and will never work out, they really do want you to do well.
Consider that even a simple move to a new cubicle changes a worker’s world. You will get negative comments. It helps to remember that resistance is not the same as hostility. And, negative people can be valuable to you. It’s a good idea to listen to their concerns. You can check out what they say, take what is valuable, and make sure you’re not missing something important. Then, it’s time to confidently ignore their negativity.
What helps even more to consider is this. You are not hearing what most of your coworkers really think; that everything will actually work out just fine.The reality is the people you are organizing to move have a genuine commitment to the company, the success of the move, their fellow employees…and you. They really do want you to succeed.
Example: As a facility coordinator in his early 20’s, a guy I worked with was responsible for coordinating a new moving project every few weeks. In asking how he handled it at the beginning he said, “I showed respect to the managers and employees. Not just about the move, but about their jobs and schedules and opinions. Eventually, they showed me the same respect.”
“Don’t rebuke an older man harshly…appeal to him respectfully as you would do to your own father.” – 1 Timothy
3) Trust Your Allies To Help You
You have more allies than you realize — people inside and outside your company working with you to make your move a success. Because of your position as your company’s move coordinator, you have access to a wealth of expertise. Vendors, suppliers, project managers, and field reps are your allies.
A good move planner, IT expert, phone consultant, or other vendor will share valuable information with you, usually for free. Ask your questions and let them add to your knowledge. In a a few conversations, you can be on the cutting edge. Your knowledge can catch up or pass more experienced coworkers quickly. Your allies can also help you get things done.
Example: As part of preparing employees for their move, we do a presentation to the employees to answer their questions and get them ready. We cover what needs packed, how to pack, how to label, how to prepare their computer, timing, and other things. I ask a move coordinator what they prefer, whether they want me to do the presentation or would they like to do it themselves with my material. Many tell me, “It’s better if you tell them so they will actually do it.” That’s making use of an ally.
“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.” – Brian Tracy
4) Get Advice Cautiously
This has to be done just right for the good of your moving project. So, here’s my advice on getting advice.
Let’s say you find out someone else in your company has coordinated moves in the past. They have some information valuable to you.
What you don’t want to do is put them in the position of coaching or mentoring you — at least not yet. (More on this later.) If they give advice, it has to be no –commitment advice. They aren’t agreeing to make you successful and you aren’t agreeing to take their advice.
Example: The way to begin is to simply say, “I’m talking with a few people inside and outside our organization about the move. What advice do you have based on your experience?” Write down what they say. The way to end the conversation is to say, “Thanks for your information. I’ll put it together with the other input I have and do my best on the move.”
Asking for advice with a combination of humility, curiosity, and confidence can produce some valuable insights for you. And then, if you really hit it off with an experienced advice-giver, you always have the option of going back to them and developing a coaching or mentoring connection.
“Listen to your elder’s advice not because they are always right but because they have more experiences of being wrong…” – coolnsmart.com.
5) Compensate for Lack of Experience with Attention and Commitment
I put this last because it’s something we all know, and yet, as amazing as it seems, some younger move coordinators fail because of this. Maybe it’s the need to appear confident – I don’t know. But they think coordinating an office move shouldn’t take much effort. It’s true that it will be easier eventually, after someone has completed several projects and has built up a seasoned team of coordinators and allies. But, if you don’t have that experience and team yet, it isn’t easy. Attention and commitment are essential. Attention is taking the project seriously enough. Commitment is doing what is needed to make it succeed.
Example: A woman in her 30’s was given the responsibility to move 200 employees into a new facility. The only relocations she had organized before were re-organization moves of 30 employees or less within the existing facility. This relocation was complicated because it included a brand new call center system. Also, the employees were moving from two different facilities over two weekends. I was at the initial planning meeting when someone asked her if she was up to the job. She simply said, “I’m going to figure it out and work hard.” She did and the move went as planned.
“Experience is something you get right after you need it.” – Steven Wright
Article by Don Warner
I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves. My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly. Let’s talk about your moving plans.