Managing older people at work can be very challenging. It requires a lot of patience, understanding, and one’s ability to adjust to another person’s personality. As a young leader, you also need to be willing to learn how the earlier generations do things before you start applying your new ideas.
As you take on the role of a young leader in the workplace who has to manage older colleagues, keep in mind the following things so you can start on the right track:
1. Be a good learner and an active listener.
You are still learning to become a good leader, so you have to know how to listen well and learn from your older colleagues. Keep in mind also that authority has to be earned, and so does respect. What you can do at this point is to watch your older colleagues carefully. Notice how they do things, identify their strong points and look for their traits that you can apply to yourself. And don’t forget to acknowledge the lessons you learned from them.
2. Try to know them on a more personal level.
This can be a bit challenging because of the generation gap between you and your older team members, but you still need to spend time trying to know them personally. Find time to talk to them casually, like during coffee breaks, or if given a chance, invite them for a drink after work. Having a personal connection with them will make it easier for you to break the barrier caused by your age gap.
3. Do not take for granted the old ways.
It’s important for you as a leader to make the transition easier for your members. Especially if your older employees need to adapt to newer ways, you must give them consideration as well. It is your responsibility as a manager or leader to help them grow and learn new things. But always be respectful and considerate of how they think and feel about the changes you are planning to implement.
4. Be less authoritative to earn respect.
As mentioned earlier, respect takes time to earn. You just can’t force someone to respect you as the manager or leader. The best way to earn their respect is to make them feel that you are one with them and one of them. Be accountable for the things happening around you and avoid putting the blame on anyone. It won’t help if you make them feel that something didn’t work because they are unable to do things your way.
When leading a group of people who are older than you, having good skills as a manager is not always enough. More often than not, you need to be more human and do the things that even ordinary people should do when working with or dealing with people who are older and more experienced than them
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