It is not possible to choose the age of your team members. And many times one ends up managing employees much older than themselves. Though it might appear as a challenge, if handled properly, the employees across various age brackets can bring in a great deal of experience and knowledge onboard which can greatly help the team. Thus, it is up to the manager to tap into the benefits and bring out their best.
The following pointers might help:
- Treat them as equals:
There could be times when you feel intimidated by their age but do not show it outside. Never behave differently from them. While in the team, do not use a different set of language or humor. It can have a negative impact.
- Avoid hurting their egos:
There can be a possibility that team members older than you may possess some ego, based on their rich experience. Care should be taken that such hurdles never impact the performance of the team. The manager should be able to identify such negativity and handle it tactfully.
- Appreciate their life experiences:
The older team members might be having a wealth of rich experiences, both professional and personal. It is up to the manager to appreciate the experience that they bring on board and turn them into lessons for the younger team members. This can give them much-needed recognition in the team and they would strive to give their best.
- Understand their challenges both personally and professionally:
Considering most of them are in the latter half of their life, they might be busy with various responsibilities. You have to be understanding and avoid pressuring them. The manager should have one on one meetings with them to understand their unique problems and give them the flexibility to deal with the same, without making it seem like they are being treated differently.
- Never underestimate them:
There is a general feeling that youngsters are technology experts as compared to older people. While to a great extent it is correct, as they have witnessed rapid technological changes and have adapted accordingly. Older people are not updated with the finer aspects of the latest Apps or usage of the latest technology, but you should not treat them as tech illiterates. In case of any knowledge gap, they can be enrolled in training programs to bring everyone on the same page.
In conclusion, Managers should consider older team members as an asset to the team where they bring vast knowledge and experience on board. But, it can happen only if the manager uses tactics and sensitivity to tap into this resource.