Managing the Older Employee
The work force has several different generations functioning side by side. Each generation has diverse needs which means you will have to manage them differently. So not only do you have individual styles to deal with, you also have the employee’s generation to include in motivating the employee.
Given the requirements for great talent and the limited talent pool, it’s likely you will have an “older worker” as part of your team. Retention of knowledgeable and productive employees, no matter what generation they reside in, is one of your primary functions within the company.
What constitutes an “older worker…anyone in the workplace 40 years old and older.” In the U.S., be aware of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which kicks in as soon as an employee turns 40. Within the “older worker” generation, you will deal with several age brackets…40, 55 or 65 year olds…and they have different lifestyle needs.
What happens when you are managing an employee who has more years that you do in the workforce or within the industry. What is your opinion of them? Do you see them as important members of your team, or view them from the old school and not up to current business knowledge or technology? It’s important that you be honest with yourself because your perception of that individual affects how you treat them. How you respond to an employee will affect their productivity, which in turn affects your business.
So how can you motivate an “older worker?”
An older worker’s needs are similar as well as different from other generations:
– Maintain consistent communication around what you expect from them and how you will support them in meeting these requirements.
– Create a learning environment so they can continue to grow and be productive in the business.
– Quickly handle conflict to minimize morale issues.
– Provide a healthy dose of appreciation for what they bring to the table.
– Respect is important for all your team members but especially for the “older worker.” They want to know that you value their industry knowledge.
– If you have an older worker who challenges you because they been in the field longer than you…don’t get defensive. Instead, focus on providing them with direction, along with acknowledgement of their knowledge.
– Get their commitment to help you develop the business. Ask them how they can effectively contribute to the team. Whenever an employee commits to being part of the team’s success, your job is so much easier.
– Maximize their value by using them as mentors within your team.
– Don’t assume you know their career aspirations….check in with them.
– You don’t have to prove you’re the manager with them…they have been around the workplace and know all about management roles. Instead, focus on maximizing what they have to offer to the team. Gain their respect.
– Flexible time…the older worker who is close to retirement may want to work part time. If you require their knowledge, you may have to be creative to support their needs.
– Benefits may be the most important aspect of an older workers compensation plan. Check in to see what they want.
As a manager, you have to provide the same performance expectations for all team members…no matter what their generation. The difference lies in how sensitive you are to each employee and what motivates him or her to perform at their best. It’s makes your job easier if you don’t make assumptions and listen to the needs of the “older worker.”
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