Managing the Older Employees
Maintaining a steep career climb is often a challenge for newly appointed young managers and their success boils down to their ability to not only manage, but successfully lead team members while ensuring that everyone is working towards the same strategic goals.
The fact that young managers may become responsible for older employees can lead to distress and unrest, but the truth is that there is no need to stress.
Bayt.com, the Middle East’s #1 Job Site, recommends these six pieces of advice:
1. Be confident in your own abilities: This includes the fact that you have earned your stripes and deserve to be the boss. On the hand, don’t be dismissive when managing older subordinates especially when it comes to training them on new skills. Just because they are not that adept with new technologies doesn’t mean they are incapable of it. Empowerment is a virtue respected in a new manager, so it’s important to take some time and help develop your team’s new skills.
2. Value the older team members’ experience in life and benefit from them as mentors: Older employees have seen more of the business and may have successfully overcome bottle-necks, thus their wisdom and life experience should not be casually discounted. Young managers will do well to win the respect, trust and confidence of their older subordinates by showing reciprocal trust, respect and confidence in their subordinates’ abilities. Many young managers can set this idea in motion by approaching experienced subordinates as mentors and positively tapping into their knowledge and experience.
3. Create common goals: Regardless of the age difference between any leader and their team members, common goals need to be put in place in order to build a culture of trust and transparent communication. In other words, don’t aim to be a sole visionary, but make sure all your team members share your vision and are willing to work with you towards achieving a common goal.
4. Show flexibility: Older employees might require a bit more flexibility than other employees, so you may need to handle them delicately at times. You do require their expertise and know-how so pay a closer attention to their needs (which could be anything from more flexible work arrangements due to family commitments, to extra benefits such as special medical coverage for them and their families). Make sure your company is taking their needs into consideration.
5. Be calm in times of challenge: Older employees often perceive the young managers as innovative and entrepreneurial, but when it comes to wise counsel and good judgment, they may sometimes be skeptical of their abilities. When making a decision, show your subordinates that their opinion counts and seek their perspective on it. If you decide differently, try and explain why the final decision works best. This could be a great brainstorming exercise too.
Practice your poise and remain calm and confident – keep your voice steady and aim to maintain a relaxed body language even in difficult situations. Employees, young and old, want to be assured that their leader has good judgment and has things under control.
6. Communicate openly and frequently. It’s good practice in general to communicate with your team on a regular basis. Because businesses evolve with time, make sure your team is constantly briefed on changing expectations. Be direct and specific in your communication. Don’t assume that they will know what you want because they’ve been around a while.
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