Managing Older Employees in a Medical Practice

One of the most unique challenges you might face as a younger manager in a medical practice is the tricky situations that can arise when managing older employees. When you are significantly younger than the people that you are in charge of leading, it can feel awkward or uncomfortable. However, it’s against the law to discriminate based on age, and that goes both ways! If you are qualified to manage, you are qualified to do so at the age you are today. How can younger managers be more effective at managing older employees in a medical practice?

See the Value in Mixing Generations

First, remember the tremendous value in mixing generations on a team, in a department or in a medical practice. A mixture of different perspectives and experiences can help to boost a team’s creativity, lead to decisions with a stronger basis in past knowledge, add an element of fun and learning and make your practice more appealing to a broad range of patients. Great teams are not homogenous, but instead celebrate diversity.

Practice a Modified Golden Rule

Everyone knows the golden rule, which is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. However, when managing older employees and a team of mixed ages, you should practice a modified version of this rule. Do unto others while keeping their preferences and needs in mind. For example, modify the way that you communicate to mesh with their preferred style. Think critically about what behaviors and attitudes the older employees bring to the workplace and how you can accommodate them.

If older workers prefer to receive phone calls instead of emails for last-minute changes, make an effort to give them a ring instead of sending out an email and expecting them to check it. While some workplace expectations are reasonable, other slight modifications you can make are ways to bridge the gap and have everyone working harmoniously. The same modifications and compromises can occur when planning meetings.  If communicating face-to-face is not much more cumbersome than calling into a central conference line, take that step. Adaptation allows for multiple generations to work together for great results.

Get to Know Your Employees

You can’t gain respect by ordering those around you to respect you. Instead, getting to know everyone on your team individually can help to build rapport and create a culture of mutual respect. This will allow you to learn more about everyone’s separate work habits and strengths. After all, how will you practice the golden rule without truly understanding the preferences and personalities of everyone on your team? While some older workers might be less enthusiastic about email, others might prefer emails over face-to-face communication or a phone call. Work to listen to the needs of everyone and remember their preferences for the future.

These tips will not only help improve inter-generational cooperation. They will positively impact your entire team, no matter what else might superficially set them apart. From different cultural or ethnic, religious or educational backgrounds, getting to know each other and making compromises and adaptations to your work environment will benefit everyone. You will feel more like a true team than a group of people who happen to work at the same office.

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