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From the Editors

3 Tips to Help Younger Leaders Manage Older Workers

Managers should get familiar with experienced employees’ motivations and strengths, and leverage them to foster individual engagement and boost team performance.

millennials, older workers, managementThe Brookings Institution predicts millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. With the group having surpassed Gen X as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, it goes without saying that older workers will — if they haven’t already — report to a younger manager in the future.

Mary Shacklett, president of the technology research and market development firm Transworld Data, offered tips to manage older workers in a March TechRepublic article. They include:

Encourage managers to get to know what motivates their more tenured employees. Younger managers may be concerned with accumulating skills and experiences to move up or around in their company or to an opportunity outside of it. That’s not necessarily the case for older employees who have likely “been there and done that.” “Instead, older workers want to enjoy what they are doing and make a contribution,” Shacklett wrote. While that might not be a manager’s personal motivator, it’s critical that they understand what drives all of their employees in order to inspire their best work and contributions to the team.

Help managers use their older workers as mentors. If experienced workers are interested in giving back by helping train team members, managers should tap into that and build “staff bench strength,” Shacklett wrote.

Support younger managers in treating their older workers as partners. The manager retains strategic authority in this situation, Shacklett wrote. “But when you meet with your older staff members on a one-to-one level, you can earn their respect faster if your treat them as partners instead of subordinates.” Depending on how long they’ve been on the team or with a company, they may have a depth of project and/or institutional knowledge that would be helpful to a younger manager who may not have as much background.

Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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