Managing Older Employees

While managing people can be rewarding, it can also be challenging especially if you are managing staff that are older than you.

Friction can result between a manager and older workers who are miffed because they think they should have your job. Others may equate youth with inexperience while some may resent taking direction from a “junior”.

iStock Older People Managing Older Employees

If you are new to management or have inherited a team with older employees, here are some tips on how you can build trust, smooth damaged egos, and get the job done.

1. Give them time to get used to you and your management style. Being “bossy” is likely to create resistance and possible subversion resulting in lower productivity.

2. Respect that their style may be very different to yours so take the time to have a lot of informal conversations to get to know them and what’s important to them.

3. Value their experience. They have been in the workforce a lot longer than you and you can learn from their wisdom and experience.

4. Involve them quickly in team decisions and show that their opinions and experience count and are valued.

5. Have them lead special projects where possible and talk to them often about progress.

6. Accept their lifestyle choices. Many older workers have put in the hard yards and long hours during their career, and may feel that they don’t need or want to continuously knock themselves out and climb the organisational ladder.

7. Encourage them to mentor some of the younger and less experienced members of your team.

8. If they constantly undermine your role and authority, don’t tiptoe around them and expect that they will change their behaviour. Set the same expectations as you would with all of your team and hold them accountable for their behaviour.