Conflicts can arise between any boss and employee, but younger bosses managing older employees sometimes create specific problems. Younger bosses might feel that older employees don’t respect their authority. Older workers might feel younger managers lack real-world experience. Either way, poor attitudes from both sides add fuel to the fire.
Young bosses can ease the struggles by following these tips:
- Keep an open mind. Avoid making common and erroneous assumptions about older employees, such as “They are not adaptable, can’t be trained and aren’t as productive as younger people.” Never make rude comments or jokes about their age. Competent workers should be considered for promotions and bonuses no matter what their age.
- Earn respect. Coming in with an iron hand and heavy discipline will only lead to resentment and ridicule. Instead, show respect to earn respect. Exhibit confidence and listen to concerns. Encourage and reward superior work from all ages.
- Capitalize on skills. Give older employees roles and responsibilities that maximize their proficiencies. Set up programs where they can mentor younger co-workers.
- Ask for suggestions. Show respect for the many years of experience clocked in by the older workers. Request their opinions. Express an interest in both successful and failed past projects.
- Recognize the differences. Understand that some older workers prefer face-to-face communication. They may want to meet more regularly to discuss projects. They may prefer formal training in technology rather than just figuring things out for themselves.
What other suggestions do you have for younger bosses that may help them supervise older employees?
[Image Source: Sarah Fate's Blog]