So you have stepped in management shoes and most of your subordinates are old enough to be your parent. How does a young upstart manager handle managing workers who are older and have more years on the job than you are old?
It will take tact and an open mind. One of the first things to remember is not to discount an older persons opinions. Some older people are not comfortable with, or do not like using the computers but that does not mean that they don't have important skills to offer. The merger of old and new ideas can make your office run like a new machine. All it takes is a little planning.
1. Start having short weekly meetings. Friday mornings work well because you may learn of issues and frustrations of the past four days. You may meet some resistance from your staff if they have never had an office meeting. Be firm and assure staff that the meeting(s) will be short and benefit everyone.
- Important factors for a successful meeting:
- a. meeting should not be more than one hour,
b. before holding the meeting, make an announcement of the date, time and place,
c. ask for discussion suggestions before you prepare your agenda,
d. do not attach a workers name to a particular discussion item,
d. have a prepared agenda to pass out to everyone,
e. ask older worker's for their thoughts, etc. on office issues.
2. Do not allow younger workers to disrespect older worker's ideas and advice by implying that they are out of date and behind the times.
3. When choosing small teams choose at least one older worker as first or second in command.
4. Do not be afraid to challenge an older workers brain power when working on a new project. You never know what someone can do or willing to learn unless you ask. For instance, if you need fine calligraphy printing done you may not have pay an outside person, you may have a master calligrapher sitting just outside your office.
5. If you stop by staff desks or cubicles to chat or say hello, be sure to stop by the older workers area also. Hurt feelings can cause problems in the office and even charges of discrimination later on, i.e. "he/she talked to everyone else in the office, except me, I felt invisible."
6. Remember people who have been in the office for a long time are the historians. When a problem seemingly without answers faces you, ask the 'old timer' if anything this has ever happened before. You may be surprised by the answer you receive.
7. If the clear-headed worker in your office is the same age as your ailing parent who can't remember one minute to the next, you must not allow prejudices or negative thoughts to cloud good judgment.