Managing Older Employees

Managing Older Employees

“I’m so much younger than the people I lead. How do I manage people who are do much older than me? Many don’t take me seriously. Some don’t say anything, but their attitude and non-verbal communication shows me how they feel.”

Manage Older Employees Effectively

I hear this a great deal from young leaders in my management training programs. Whether there is just a few years’ difference in age or the individual is a manager for people who are their parents’ age, it can be an uncomfortable situation and can even cause conflict.

Methods to help you to improve younger manager/older employee relationships.

Never avoid communication and confrontation. Talk to your older employees! Maintain a high level of confidence at all times, but never act like you know more or are better than them. This is especially important if you have an MBA and your older employees may not have college degrees. Older employees have been in the trenches and have a great deal of experience. Therefore, ask for their input and advice whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. Ask for their help. Ask about their personal lives and show them you have an interest in them personally.

Older workers are often very set in their ways and can be resistant to any type of change. They may have trouble if you implement new systems or ask them to use new technology they’re not familiar with. To help them get over this, explain the “why” of doing things. This can open the lines of communication. Use this open communication as a way to reap the benefits of the insight your older employees can offer. Put them in a problem-solving/idea-sharing team. Be sure to give them the training or help they need and demonstrate that you care about them.

What do you do with an older employee who just won’t come around? Speak to them in private and let them know you feel there’s a problem. Ask what you can do to help the situation. Then, consider stating, “I’ve never said or done anything to disrespect you and I know I’m a young manager, but I need you to respect me take me seriously. Can we agree that we will both respect each other?”

Open and honest communication is the key to managing employees who are older than you. If you are in doubt about what to say, do what I tell every leader to do – shoot straight from your heart.

About Christine Corelli

Christine Corelli is a motivational, keynote, business, leadership, sales, and customer service speaker, sales trainer, and author of six business books. As a keynote speaker, she is known for her high energy and interactive speaking style.

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