How Millennials Can Prepare to Manage Older Employees
- Communicate Effectively: Communication is key in the workplace and communicating effectively is not necessarily easy! Instead of thinking ahead to what you want to talk about when your coworkers are talking, take time to truly listen to what they are saying. When you manage older employees, it’s important to take time to find out how they prefer to be communicated with. For example, older employees might prefer face-to-face communication instead of email. While that isn’t always possible, when it is possible making the extra effort won’t go unnoticed.
- Value Your Coworkers: Older employees are wise and experienced, and when you manage older employees you should keep that in mind. A skilled manager understands how to lead while respecting the talents and knowledge of everyone seated around the table. Seek out ways for them to offer their opinions, knowledge and use their talents. After all, the best leaders are the sum of the people they are leading.
- Think About Results: Sometimes managers get bogged down in the process of how things are done instead of the results at the end of the process. When you manage older employees, focus more on the products and services that are being created through their work than the details of how they are getting there. For example, if one employee prefers to work on paper before digitizing their final reports and it does not add significant time to the process, why should you require them to only work on a tablet? Little adaptations can allow everyone to thrive in the workplace.
- Don’t Dwell on Age: Sometimes when you manage older employees, they might ask your age and push to learn more about your experience. This is often not malicious, but instead, it arises from natural curiosity. While it is taboo and sometimes illegal to ask the age of the people that you are working with, it often comes up. If you are not comfortable sharing your age with your coworkers, you can always retort “old enough to do the job!” when asked your age. If you are comfortable sharing, there is nothing wrong with doing so. Above anything else, you want to ensure that your age does not become an ongoing topic of discussion or distraction at work.