How to Manage Employees Older Than You? Tips for New Leaders
"Hey, young one!" So you're a new leader who's just been promoted to manage an older person.
Don't worry, you're not alone.
In fact, I know from personal experience, because often now, when I'm facilitating a workshop, I'm the "older person" they could be talking about.
Managing employees who are more experienced or older than you can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to help you navigate this situation:
Get to know your employees: You can't lead effectively if you don't know your team. Take the time to understand their work styles, backgrounds, and experiences. Share your leadership style with everyone and encourage them to do the same. This will help build trust and open communication.
Be confident: Remember that you were promoted for a reason. You have the knowledge and expertise to do the job. You may not have all the managing skills of a seasoned leader, but you have a lot to offer your team. Don't be afraid to take charge when needed.
Throw out your assumptions: Don't assume that older workers are set in their ways or difficult to train. Treat them with the same respect and professionalism as you would anyone else. Recognize the value of their life experience and ask them to mentor you. You may be surprised at what you can learn from them.
Empower and hold them accountable: You can still delegate authority and hold employees responsible, regardless of age. Show your reports that you care about them and display confidence in your decision-making capability while taking in their knowledge and input. Your level of confidence in yourself will go a long way toward helping you establish yourself as a leader.
Use humor: Sometimes, a little humor can go a long way in breaking down barriers and building relationships. Don't be afraid to inject some lightheartedness into your interactions with your team. Call yourself "The kid," and appreciate their maturity. You might be surprised at how well it's received.
Ok, and for you, the "ancient one," here are some points to consider:
Embrace change: You may be set in your ways, but remember, change is the only constant in life. So, put on your seatbelt and enjoy the ride!
Don't assume: Just because your boss is young doesn't mean they lack experience. They may have skills and knowledge you don't have, so keep an open mind and go with the flow.
Learn new skills: The world is changing fast, and so are the necessary skills to succeed. Make sure you keep learning and updating your skills to stay relevant.
Don't be afraid to speak up: Just because your boss is younger than you doesn't mean they always know best. If you have ideas or suggestions, speak up and share your perspective. Just don't be so rigid.
Be a mentor: Your boss may be young, but they still have a lot to learn. Share your knowledge and experience with them and help them become the best leader they can be.
Don't be bitter: Sure, it can be tough to report to someone younger than you, but don't let bitterness or resentment take over. Instead, focus on doing your best work and helping your team succeed.
And you, too, have a sense of humor: Sometimes, you just have to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. So, when your boss, "The kid," says something that makes you feel old, laugh it off and keep going.
Interactions with age differences can be challenging, but remember, it's just a number, and it's the experience and knowledge that count. Build strong relationships with your team and achieve success together.
I help brilliant minds lead with heart and empathy.