How To Manage Employees That Are Older Than You

Published by Mike Michalowicz (Google+)

How To Become An Entrepreneur

1. Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

I was the youngest Sales Manager at a fortune 100 company a few years ago. The best way to manage older employees is by showing them how to do their job better so they are happier and are making more income. In order to do this, you have to do it first. I put up the numbers first as a loan officer in their position and then as a sales manager with them reporting to me. My goal was to get them their first 5 figure paycheck within 3 months of my leadership. After that, you bet they listened!
Thanks to: Amit "AV" Vaghela of AV Vaghela with Supreme Lending.

2. Respect Is Earned Not Demanded

Since respect is earned not demanded, age really doesn't matter. First, remember they are people not just employees. You always have to show or prove you know what you are doing, and that you are open to hearing ideas and suggestions from people who've been "on the ground" in that situation before. Fresh ideas and a new point of view are great; they are even better when mixed with the experience of people who’ve been on the job long before your arrival.
Thanks to: Ann Karrick of the Ann Karrick Show.

3. Older is Cost Effective

The first step in effectively managing employees who are older than their manager is recognizing their value. The perception that older workers are less productive than younger ones is false. Research has shown that older workers' productivity does not fall but rises because of greater dependability, better judgment and accuracy.

A manager who understand the value of older employees is more likely to make the effort to communicate effectively.
Thanks to: Art Koff of Retired Brains LLC.

4. Straight Talk vs. Tweet Talk

Conflicts between young bosses and older workers are inevitable.
Young managers should have more patience and rely on face-to-face interactions with older employees rather than rely on emails alone.

Taking time to understand the needs and behaviors of employees means flexibility in ways to build rapport and respect. Communication is crucial and young managers must be open and honest and offer straight talk to gain respect.

Thanks to: Dianne Durkin of Loyalty Factor, LLC.

5. Celebrate The Diversity

Promote the awareness of the generation gap that exists in your workplace. Recognize and educate what each generation brings to the table, but avoid generational stereotypes such as all younger employees are tech savvy or all older employees prefer face-to-face communications. Provide opportunities for purposeful interaction and dialogue, and use them to teach and coach how the differences work together in new and innovative ways.
Thanks to: Chae J. Pak Author of Me Paradox.

6. Do The Right Thing

Managing older employees requires respect, openness and humility. A golden opportunity awaits if you are able to tap into your mature team members' wisdom and experience. Solicit their ideas/feedback and ask for their help in mentoring younger employees - and always show your gratitude. Outstanding leaders realize that we all aspire to be recognized and appreciated. By adhering to these fundamental principles, we create a thriving, productive workplace.
Thanks to: Susan Steinbrecher of Steinbrecher And Associates, Inc..

7. Dealing with the Dinosaurs

Call them dinosaurs, old fogies or blue-hairs, but they are your staff and part of your team. To succeed in managing staff from the Boomer generation takes respect. They may not have your technology skills or a college degree but they still have value. Many Baby Boomers built their resumes and skills through on-the-job training. They know things about the company and products it took years to acquire. Don't talk down to them, respect and use their experience, then put their skills to use.
Thanks to: Terri Maurer, FASID of Maurer Consulting Group.

8. In My Day We Used To...

Zap the words, "In my day, we used to..." out of your vocabulary. The last thing a boss who is younger than you wants to hear is how work was done back in the good old days of the nineties. This doesn't mean your boss isn't interested in hearing about your experience.

Instead, you might want to ask permission to share your story. For example, "With your permission Tom, I'd like to tell you how we promoted our product when resources were tight."
Thanks to: Roberta Matuson of Human Resource Solutions.

9. Involve Vs. Confronting

The discomfort older employees feel with younger management often stems from a feeling of being more capable to do the job than their younger manager. Don't assume you know the best solution even if you do. Involve older employees in the process of managing themselves. Instruct them by involving their experience. Even if you don't use their suggestion the fact you asked versus told them how to approach a situation or what to do will encourage their buy in to your leadership, and that spreads.
Thanks to: Bo Hammond of Coastal Lumber Company.

10. Just Another Day at the Office

As someone on the 'older side' of this equation, it's always amusing to see the 'youngsters' tell people about something they read in a book.
"A young entrepreneur at a tradeshow once commented, "Look at that guy. He's a fossil". To which someone who knew him replied, "He's forgotten more about this business than you'll ever know. And he can find more business by accident, than you can by looking for it". Young bosses, blend your enthusiasm with your older workers experience.
Thanks to: Bob McIntyre of Author -


Compiled by Mike Michalowicz, Author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Category: Hiring & Firing, Human Resources
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