They say age is just a number, but this sentiment doesn’t always ring true in the workplace. Often, managers who are considerably younger than their employees have greater hurdles to overcome in earning the respect of their teams. Are you much younger than your subordinates? Recognizing generational differences, and being mindful of your approach, is the first step to improving your effectiveness as a manager and helping your employees reach their fullest potential.
If you’re significantly younger than those you manage, here are three ways to bridge the generational divide and create a fulfilling work environment for your team:
1) Communicate a shared vision
Projecting a “we’re all in this together” mentality can do wonders to bring your employees together and show them every person counts toward reaching company goals. By unifying your team and communicating a shared vision, you’ll set the stage for a more fluid, two-way exchange of information in the workplace. Additionally, when implementing new changes or policies, it’s important to provide data-driven facts and figures that support your decisions. Regardless of your age or experience level, using numbers as the basis for critical decisions will allow you to prove the validity of your decisions to your staff.
2) Avoid micromanaging
As a manager, you’re used to overseeing many people and projects. However, when managing people significantly older than yourself, it’s important to be cognizant of avoiding micromanagement. Remember, older personnel have been in the workforce several years longer than you – they’re often accustomed to general management protocols and will resent having a boss constantly looking over their shoulder. The key to preventing micromanagement is to clearly articulate your expectations to your employees regarding performance and deadlines. Once you do this, make a point to back off, give them independence and check in occasionally.
3) Ask for advice and feedback when making big decisions
While it may not seem natural to you at first, asking your employees for advice and feedback can create a more inclusive environment for every person on your team. As a manager, seeking your employees’ input can be a powerful way to show you value their thoughts, ideas and opinions – and most importantly – want to include them in the decision-making process. For instance, are you considering the launch of a certain sales initiative? Is there a part of your department that needs improvement? Not only does seeking feedback empower your people, it fosters a greater sense of morale within your culture.
There’s no question that successfully managing older employees can often feel like a balancing act. However, with the right approach, you can position yourself as an effective and respected manager among all the members of your team. Most importantly, you’ll give your employees the confidence to excel in their roles and make a positive impact on your organization.
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