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Managing Older Employees

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Leading older employees can get tricky, especially if you’re younger than them. However, older employees in a company often bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that takes years to attain. By understanding and accepting a few things about older employees, you could tap into a mentor and resource that was years in the making.

  • Everyone learns differently. Don’t assume that older workers have enough experience to negate the need for additional training, and don’t assume they are completely clueless on modern technology either. Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, no matter their age, to help them succeed in the company.
  • Be consistent with your leadership and management style. Remember that your employees are all colleagues, despite any age gaps. Although they seem different, it’s important not to show preferential treatment–whether to younger or older workers.
  • Be open to criticism. Feedback is important, and when it comes from someone who has been with your company longer, consider they may know the facets of the company a little better.
  • Don’t be offended if they associate youth with inexperience, just prove them wrong. If you were hired for a position, it means you’re qualified for it. Instead of letting older employees wonder about your qualifications, manage the position and yourself with expertise and confidence.
  • Understand that they have different goals. A 35-year-old employee may be concerned about sending his kids to college, whereas a 50-year-old employee might be considering retirement and is worried about keeping active. Be sensitive to their goals as a manager, since you may end up negotiating their compensation packages with the finance department.
  • Use their preferred communication styles. Some employees love instant messaging or texting to communicate, and some don’t. If your employees prefer having meetings face-to-face instead of on a video conference, indulge them if you can. If it makes more sense for productivity and efficiency to use video conferencing, work with any older employees who aren’t comfortable to understand the technology.
  • Finally, don’t be intimidated by them. No matter how much older they are, you could lose valuable time, resources and talent when you hesitate to confront an older employee. If they are doing something wrong, they should be spoken to just like everyone else.

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