The prevailing culture of meritocracy means leadership roles are usually given to those individuals who demonstrate the best fit for the job. This may result in a younger person being in a senior role and managing workers who are a decade or more older. In a society where people often compare themselves with their peers in order to measure their success in life, being, as they see it “overtaken” by a member of the younger generation can be a harrowing experience. If not handled properly, older employees may swiftly become disgruntled with a younger manager, leading to resentment, frustration, depression and ultimately reduced performance. Don’t let that happen in your workplace! Follow these five important tips to foster and develop a successful working relationship with older members of your team.
Respect the expertise older workers can bring
They may not be managers, but older workers frequently have a wealth of experience and insight to offer about the company, the job, and the industry in general. Respect that knowledge and make sure your team members know just how much it’s valued. Use the expertise which more experienced workers can bring to add value to your projects and enhance goal achievement.
Find common ground
You may not be at the same life stage as some members of your team, but it is still important to look for common ground and to empathise and take a polite interest in their activities and life beyond the workplace. Remember that many interests (sport or music, for example) have no age limit!
Older employees may well have training needs
Your aim as a manager should be to get the best from every team member, irrespective of age. Make sure that older employees have the same access to high-quality training and development opportunities as younger workers. It’s never too late to learn!
Don’t be afraid to manage!
The flip side of facilitating good performance is by managing performance which is lacking. Don’t let someone’s age influence the way you tackle poor performance. Every team member needs effective, supportive management when their performance isn’t as it should be.
Forget the stereotypes
Stereotypes are harmful! With ageism in the workplace a common prejudice, it’s vital that managers at all levels work to promote equality: this means you! Treat each worker as a valued resource, regardless of their date of birth: use your management role to optimise performance, encourage development and put in place the stepping stones to success at the corporate, departmental and individual employee level.
The Anthony Gregg Partnership has plenty of opportunities available for you to test your leadership skills on diverse teams in a variety of disciplines: get in touch to find out more.