Managing Older Subordinates
Maintaining a steep career climb is often a challenge for newly appointed young managers and their managerial success boils down to their ability to not only manage, but lead team members as well as ensure everyone is working towards the same strategic common goals. The fact that young managers may become responsible for older employees can lead to distress and unrest, but the truth is that there is no need to stress!
The Bayt.com Career Experts recommend young managers assess these 5 pieces of advice:
1. Be confident in your own abilities: This includes the fact that you have earned your stripes and deserve to be the boss. Many times, a young manager is mistakenly tempted to promptly dismiss an older team simply because he/she feels the team will overshadow his or her skills, expertise and know how. Instead think of the organisation's benefit and recognize that you have been promoted for a very good reason.
2. Value the older team members' experience in life and benefit from them as mentors: Older employees have naturally seen and done a lot and their wisdom and life experience should not be casually discounted. Young managers will do well to win the respect and trust and confidence of their older subordinates by showing reciprocal trust and respect and confidence in their subordinates’ abilities. Many young managers are able to positively tap into abilities of their much more seasoned subordinates after recognizing them as invaluable mentors brimming with experiences to learn from. Show that you value their presence in your team and their experience and listen to/ask for their suggestions.
3. Create common goals: Regardless of the age difference between any leader and their team members, common goals need to be put in place in order to build a culture of trust and transparent communication. In other words, don’t only aim to be a sole visionary, but make sure all your team members share your vision and are willing to work with you towards achieving a common goal.
4. Show flexibility: Older employees might require a bit more flexibility than other employees, so you may need to handle them delicately at times. You do need their expertise and know-how so pay a closer attention to their needs (which could range from more flexible work arrangements to extra benefits such as special medical coverage for them and their families. Make sure your company is taking their needs into consideration).
5. Display calmness in times of challenge: Older employees often perceive the “young” managers as innovative and entrepreneurial, but when it comes to wise counsel and good judgement, they may sometimes get skeptical. Practice your poise and remain calm and confident – keep your voice steady and aim to maintain a relaxed body language even in difficult situations. Employees, young and old, want to rest assured their leader has good judgment and has things under control in the good and less than rosy times.
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