There are plenty of age-diverse workplaces, thanks to millennials entering the labor force in droves while baby boomers hold on to their jobs a little longer than expected. As such, younger business professionals may face challenges when managing older workers. This non-traditional juxtaposition does not have to be a burden to your team if you follow a few tips.
It's important for younger managers to be good listeners. This is especially important if you're managing older workers who want to share information about their decades of experience with the new boss. Simply listening to workers makes them feel valued. Listening also gives you insight into how things were done in the past, which can help you come up with ideas as you gauge how to move your team forward.
Help your team grow together using several different avenues. Arrange casual events outside of work, or plan weekly business lunches where everyone shares information about specific projects or tasks. Use shared experiences to grow closer as a team. This practice also helps younger and older workers form relationships that might continue after work hours.
Determine what motivates the older workers in your office. Perhaps they want to learn new things or spend more time with their families. Once you find out what motivates your team, you can push the right buttons to get them to be more productive.
Older workers have plenty to share, and the perfect way for them to that is to mentor younger employees. Older team members not only have decades of experience, but they have connections that younger people simply don't have yet because they don't have as many contacts.
The beauty of mentoring is that learning works both ways. Younger employees have just as much to teach older workers. Consider having a formal mentoring program to foster growth across the generations.
Celebrate achievements among all of your workers, whether they are big or small. Everyone loves encouragement, and showing appreciation to older teammates improves the morale of the entire office. Baby boomers may not necessarily want constant feedback about their job performance, but they deserve recognition from their peers as much as anyone else.
When it comes down to it, you have to be yourself and be a leader in age-diverse workplaces. Part of your leadership skill set is not second-guessing yourself. Yes, you make mistakes along your professional journey, but as a business professional you own up to your mistakes and ask for help. Taking in the countenance of older team members earns their respect when you say to someone, "Hey, I really could use your advice on this."
Remember that age is just a number. It's how you act that's important to everyone at the office, including older workers. Once you have the team's respect, you can delve into the specifics of how to manage your age-diverse department.
Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net