In the grand scheme of things, the age of your employees isn’t really an issue unless they’re close to retirement. Even if they are, your only concern is to replace them with equally competent new recruits. In terms of skills, older people might have more experience while younger employees might have more current knowledge.
Older people might have patience while younger people might be more passionate and enthusiastic. While people tend to make a lot of assumptions about age, it doesn’t play a very important role. That is, unless a leadership position is involved. In such cases, the situation can become a little more complicated.
Egos can clash and problems with communication and teamwork can emerge. This is especially true if there’s a young leader with older employees working under them. This is often the case with new entrepreneurs. Here’s how you can handle the situation.
Understand Employees of All Age Groups
Unfortunately, like-minded people tend to flock to one another. So it might not come as a surprise that younger people prefer talking and interacting with people from their own age group. If you have older employees working with you, you might find it a little difficult to connect with them because of the age barrier. You can cross this barrier by taking the time to understand your employees.
If you let age be something that stands between you and your employees, you might end up alienating them. If you understand and communicate with them regularly, you’ll forget about their age and focus on the value they bring to your company. This would go a long way to bridge the gap and ensure that your employees feel like they’re a part of your company.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Often times, older people bring considerable experience and knowledge with them. It would be unwise to ignore their suggestions and recommendations. However, you should also consider your own judgement on the matter and listen to what your other employees say as well. Some older employees will try to flaunt their experience and challenge your decisions.
When this happens, you need to hold your position and stand firm. There will be older employees that might disrespect you and you should deal with them decisively. If you don’t, you won’t be able to gain any respect as a leader and that can adversely affect your business.
Communication involves more than just speaking, it involves listening. You need to listen to the concerns and suggestions voiced by your employees, regardless of their age. You need to understand where the older employees are coming from. They fear that they won’t be of value to the company and that they’d be made redundant. This fear translates to being intimidated by and wary of younger employees.
You can easily avoid this by listening to their opinions and considering them seriously. They’ll respect you if you respect them. It’s your responsibility to show them that they’re of value to your company. If you don’t, you’ll only end up with uncooperative or irritated employees who think they’re not being treated well.