These days it can be quite common that a boss, manager, or CEO of a company is younger than their employees. Depending upon the management style that is implemented in this scenario, things can run smoothly, or quite the opposite. So how do you manage employees that are older than you, and how can you persuade them to do their jobs without looking too bossy or offensive? Below are our top tips for effectively managing employees who are older than you in your workplace.
Don’t act like a boss
When managing employees older than yourself, it’s not a good idea to project too strongly that you’re the boss. This can result in employees beginning to harbor feelings of resentment towards you, often resulting in negative outcomes. Give your employees enough time to grow accustomed to you and your leadership style, and concentrate on executing your tasks as effectively as possible, and you’ll have much more success.
Consider the range of ages
You wouldn’t treat an experienced employee that’s 35 the same as a rookie assistant that’s 20. So don’t assume that a 15-year gap is less important when it comes to older workers. An employee at 70 and an employee at 55 have different needs and objectives. Since you’re the manager, you have to look at workers who are about to retire, as well as at those who have surpassed the retirement age but want or need to continue to work differently. Listen to their needs, and make decisions that are satisfactory for both the company and the worker.
Don’t be rude
If you want your employees to appreciate and respect you, always be polite when you talk to them. When they have a problem, get involved and suggest a solution. But remember; you have to do it in a gracious way! Because older workers may not have a Facebook profile and don’t tweet, does not mean that they’re not capable of doing so. Often they just need someone to show them how, so watch your tone and language.
Learn from the experience of older workers
There are a number of significant factors why older employees have survived or stayed in your company for lengthy periods of time. These employees have probably dealt with tough situations over time, so you should make the most of their experience wherever possible. Keep in mind that the best bosses are always willing to learn and never assume that they know everything. Encourage older employees to express their opinions and come up with ideas that can help you do a better job.
Different workers have different lifestyles; so if one of your employees does an excellent job, but has to attend a family event instead of a party you’ve organized, allow them to do that. Try to schedule social events so that everyone can be there where possible.
Let older workers participate in the decision-making processes at your company
When you have to make an important decision, don’t hesitate to seek the perspectives of older workers. In the case where you decide differently, make sure you let older workers know that their opinion matters by explaining to them why the decision you made is more appropriate than their suggestion. Younger employers can tend to be narcissistic know-it-alls, but if you want to gain your elders’ respect, you must demonstrate that you’re not that type of employer. Try to avoid sentences such as “Because I said so”. This will go along way with employees of all ages.
Respect the working styles of older employees
Try to find out what stimulates your employees to accomplish their tasks. For example, older workers might prefer flexible hours to monetary awards. Be open-minded and try to find a common ground. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’ll let employees do whatever they want, but you can still make small concessions.
Communicate with your employees
Communicate with your employees as often as possible. If your expectations change, inform them about this and make yourself clear. Don’t assume that older workers (or any workers for that matter) will know what they have to do simply because they’ve been working for your company for years.
Be an effective leader
Don’t let your age intimidate you. When you have to make a decision, make it with confidence. It’s not recommended to second-guess yourself because this may give your employees reason to believe that you’re not able to do your job. You have to respect everyone, but you also have to stand firm when it comes to issues that just can’t be negotiated.
Initiate a mentorship program through which older employees can mentor younger workers and vice versa. The majority of senior employees have rich experience and knowledge that they’re willing to pass on, so offer them the chance to do so and your whole company will benefit. Bear in mind that even though you are younger than your elder coworkers, elders can still learn a lot of things from you, especially when it comes to the latest technologies, trends and so on. What’s more, you should know that mentorship programs also enable senior employees to manage you by sharing their experiences, and this prevents them from feeling domineered.
Do not treat older employees differently
If senior employees don’t follow your rules, do the same thing you would if they were younger than you. Treat all your team members similarly and make sure everyone knows that you do not favor older workers. As a manager you should respect the age of all of your employees, but that doesn’t mean you should allow anyone to step outside of company expectations.
Senior employees need training just as much as any other group of workers. Of course, the topic of training might vary, but the need remains the same. Assuming that senior employees can’t be trained is a big mistake! Senior employees are much more receptive than you think, and are easily able to enhance their skills if they’re trained properly.
Pay attention to the security needs of older workers
Older employees need more benefits than younger ones. Therefore, you have to make sure you provide them with medical coverage, financial planning, and vision care. Take a look at your business’s benefits plan, and see whether or not it matches the needs of all of your workers.
Older employees might need a shorter working week or flexible hours. So you have to come up with a solution that pleases everyone. If you want to benefit from the technical skills and talent of elder employees, you should pay attention to their preferences. However note that not all senior employees prefer to leave work early. Some might want to stick to their old working schedule, so keep the communication channels open.
Motivation is key to managing older employees
One of the most important things you need to do when managing people is to motivate your workers. Keep in mind that senior and junior workers are not be motivated by the same things. Opportunity for advancement might stimulate younger employees, whereas the appreciation of a job well done may act as a greater motivator for elder workers.
Managing older employees can be a tricky task, but as long as you’re a fair boss, everything should go to plan. Just because you’re half the age of your employees, doesn’t mean you can’t motivate your employees to meet company expectations. As long as you’re understanding, caring, and ultimately professional in the workplace, your efforts will be appreciated.