BRIDGING THE GAP – Tips for Younger Managers and Older Employees

In today’s workforce, many employees find themselves being managed by younger employees. From 2000 to 2005, the number of employees in the workforce over age 55 increased almost 30%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demographers expect that trend to accelerate over the coming years; while, the number of 25 to 54 year old workers increased just 1% between 2000 and 2005.

A younger manager put in a position to supervise older co-workers face a delicate challenge that can be managed successfully with a little interpersonal finesse. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Continually build them up.  Tell the employee how much you appreciate their work.  
  2. An older employee brings wisdom and experience that can lend a special dimension to your team.  Tell them that you want be partners and make a great success of your region, territory, etc.
  3. Let them know that you can work together so that both of you will be successful.  Let them know that both of you depend on each other for your mutual success.  You bring strengths to the table and so do they.  The more you build them up, the better they will feel.  But, be sincere. 
  4. Be straight with them.  Let them know what the company’s expectations are. 
  5. Let them know that you are on the same team and that you will bend over backwards to help them reach their goals/quota. 
  6. Tell them that you think they can exceed the company’s expectations/goals.  Ask them to figure out how to do it and you can work out a business plan together.  The more the ideas come from them, the more likely it will be that they will buy into it and make it happen.
  7. If you do face issues, speak to them privately so these things don’t come up in a public meeting. 

Leadership by inspiration works a lot better than management by control.

To your success!

Steve Savage

ssavage@southwesternconsulting.com

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