Leading Teams Are You Old Enough to Know Better?
In the May issue of Managing People at Work, we focused on managing Genera-tion Y employees. This month we take a look at the baby boomer workforce.
You’re probably managing employ¬ees across a wide spectrum of ages. Though each individual is unique, there are distinct differences between younger workers and baby boomers. If you un¬derstand what makes employees from different generations tick, you can more effectively motivate and inspire them.
“Managing older employees starts with the manager himself,” says Maxine Fischer, AARP operations manager in Southern California. “It’s natural to feel a bit de¬fensive when dealing with someone who has more experience in the workplace,” Fischer notes. “On the other hand, there’s a tremendous amount you can learn that will improve your managerial style and the strength of your team.”
Here are some tips to get the most out of your older employees:
Don’t be the expert It’s OK to acknowledge you don’t know everything. Older, experienced workers have a lot to share with you—as long as you’re willing to ask questions and listen to the answers. Fischer notes, “You also set an example for the team by not being defensive and by encouraging younger workers to seek advice from their senior counterparts.”
Older employees are more likely to take you seriously if they see evidence of your own work ethic. “Another way to demonstrate your managerial skills is by staying calm during stressful moments,” Fischer says. “Older workers will take note of your maturity and decision-making abilities and respect you for it.”
Good communication cuts across generations Some older employees may be inclined to stick with their own way of doing things. They will resist trying new ways to get things done and may be slow to accept new technol¬ogy. In these situations, your best approach is offering a clear explanation for the reasons behind these changes and how they’re likely to benefit everyone in the unit. Older workers respond favorably once they have a better understanding of the situation.
“Whenever possible, try to communicate in person,” Fischer advises. “Older employees may be adept in the use of email and social media while still preferring to interact with their manager on a face-to-face basis. Schedule regular meetings with them or pick up the phone and call. They will respond to human contact.” Value their experience There’s a lot that older team members can contribute to the workplace. In most cases, they will have worked in numerous different positions and at various companies over the years. Leverage their experience to help solve problems and gain a deeper understanding about how things became the way they are today. Encourage younger employees to share this attitude. Their older colleagues will be happy to share what they’ve learned over the years.
Don’t neglect training Every generation of employees needs some type of on-the-job training. “Don’t fall for the stereotype that older workers can’t be trained,” Fischer says. “They’re eager to learn and often pick up new skills faster than their younger colleagues. Being challenged is part of what keeps us all young at heart.” A mentor for the unit Older workers bring experience and a sea-soned outlook to the team. Why not make the most of this? Fischer confirms, “In the right environment, managers can be ‘coached’ by these individuals and benefit from those who have ‘been there and done that.’ These same employees will likely be happy to mentor other young team members as well.”
Create a great team Your most important objective is creating a great team, one that includes youthful enthusiasm and time-tested experience. By treating each team member with respect, regardless of their age, you’re ideally posi¬tioned to lead a team that knows how to get the job done.
“The best teams transcend any age issues,” Fischer says. “With mutual respect and a common goal, a person’s age is irrelevant. It’s what they bring to the table that counts.”
FOR THE WEEK OF Jun. 19, 2013
Banking Center Manager at Fashion Island Newport Beach Job
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