How to manage older employees
Landing a managerial role is a great career progression, but it’s not without its challenges. From motivating employees to making difficult decisions, the roles and responsibilities are varied.
One particular challenge facing younger managers is managing older employees. While you may be qualified for your new leadership position, there are elements of your job which will involve you needing to oversee those who are older - and potentially more experienced - than you. It may be intimidating to manage older employees, particularly if they’ve been with the company for longer than you have.
We’ve consulted with leadership experts for some tips to help you embrace your new management style and lead with confidence.
1 - You don’t need to know everything
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in your new role and feel that you need to know everything and have the answers. Younger managers might feel additional pressure of having to prove themselves and shy away from asking questions and seeking help.
One of the biggest mistakes any manager can make is to refuse to learn from their team. Team collaboration is the key ingredient for any success and older employees are in fact one of the best resources you have available to you. They have likely been with the company, not to mention industry, for several years, meaning they’ve probably come across whatever issue you’re trying to troubleshoot and know the brand inside out.
So don’t shy away from asking - remember, you don’t need to know everything.
2 - Get to know your team
Just because there may be a significant age gap between you and your team members doesn’t mean that there won’t be any shared interests.
Remember, respect is earned not demanded, and an aloof manager would be hard pressed to know how to manage their team correctly. It’s important as a manager to get to know the members of your team as individuals first, understanding their key strengths and passions, seeing what motivates them and what working style they prefer.
By understanding your team members better, you’re in a better position to assign tasks and roles accordingly. Making an effort to get to know your team also bridges distance you may be feeling due to age differences.
3 - Don’t force change for change’s sake
More often than not, new managers are excited to refresh old systems, bring about new change and shake things up. While change is a great thing, and can definitely be much needed to refresh and improve systems, change for change’s sake is not necessarily a good thing.
Instead, respect tradition and introduce new systems gradually, giving employees time to adjust. Trying to implement a number of radical changes will only result in resistance, especially with many being off the camp, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.
We’re not advocating against change - simply recommending that when implementing a new change, you explain to the older employees the reasoning behind the change and make it clear that these improvements are important for the overall business goals. Taking time to explain the rationale behind changes will result in better team buy-in and make everyone eager to take ownership of the new policies.
4 - Recognise the different communication styles
A lot has changed in the past few years, and with it is our understanding of language, interaction and work dynamics. Managers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of communication and offering feedback the way each team member responds to best.
For instance, a younger employee might be used to a virtual shout out for a job well done, whether via email or slack, but an older employee might prefer their manager to stop by their desk and thank them for a job well done. It’s important to understand how your team member feels appreciated and deliver feedback in a manner they appreciate.
Remember, the quickest way to gain the respect of your team is by being the best manager you can be.
Do you have any other tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
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Cover Image Credits: Unsplash, Scott Graham
Inline Image Credits: Unsplash