How To Manage Employees Older Than You

April 21, 2016

It can be nerve-wracking to enter a new team as a manager while getting to know your employees and earning their respect.

When your staff are older than you, the challenges can be even more overwhelming.

Your staff can have many reservations about a young boss, possibly viewing you as inexperienced, entitled and simply too young.

If the relationship is properly managed, and enough time is given for both the employees and the boss to get to know each other, a good outcome is possible.

However, it is important to strategically manage older employees in order to facilitate a good fit.

Here are three tips on managing older employees:

Listen

Many managers misinterpret their leadership role; while they are hired to lead a team, they shouldn’t be the only ones in the room talking.

Listening is an important soft skill that all managers need to possess, especially those that supervise older employees.

Take the time to get to know your staff by asking questions about their experience on the job, as well as what the previous manager did well, and areas in which they could have improved.

This will provide you with valuable insight into how best to treat the staff member; for example, if they state that the old manager micromanaged, they likely want more independence.

Ask for your staff’s opinions on tasks and projects, as that will not only make them feel valued, but their experience can actually help you.

Empower

It is easy enough to write off older employees when it comes to skills they may not possess.

For example, you may turn to a millennial if you want to increase the firm’s online marketing strategy, as the baby boomers will likely not be familiar with Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

However, it is important to realise that people of all ages are interested in learning and growing.

Therefore, take the time to train your older employees in skills they may not have, and encourage them to try something new and take chances.

Understand

Many younger bosses believe that they can’t relate to their older workers, so they don’t try to get to know them at all.

And while it is true that a person in their twenties can’t understand what it may be like to work and have children, a mortgage and a dog, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to inquire and learn about their employees’ lives.

Doing so will encourage a relationship, and will also provide you with the knowledge of why an employee may ask for time off, may be late or simply unavailable after regular work hours.

While you may have all the time in the world to work overtime and meet with colleagues at the pub, try to understand your older employees, their responsibilities and their lifestyles.

Managing older employees may present its challenges, but it also has many rewards.

These seasoned employees have plenty of experience, which is why they lasted in the field for so long.

Carefully consider how best to manage them to create a well-functioning corporate culture.