How to Manage Ageing Workforce, When You’re the Young Leader

August 5, 201610:49 am718 views

In the recent times, Generation X and millennials are reigning the workforce. These young, highly capable individuals with immense hard work and innovative ideas successfully drive companies to replace their mature workers’ authority as successors in the leadership queue.

In this fast-paced economic era, every company needs leaders with fresh innovative ideas, unique skill sets and high technological requirements to thrive and win.  However, the existence of greying generation requires more attention. Many countries face the economic effects of an aging population.

For instance, in Singapore it is estimated that one in six residents will be at least 65 years old by 2020. Due to such huge numbers, encouraging older employees to thrive and continue working is no longer optional. Instead, it is critical to maintain the employee strength of mature workers to sustain the country’s economic vitality.

See also: Tackling the Multigenerational Workforce Challenge

On the other hand, managing mature workforce in companies with millennials chairing the helm of affairs, confronts some new and unique challenges to younger leaders. The age gap between young leaders and the older employees requires tactical strategy and specific treatment to maintain performance efficiency and sustain the work momentum.

While there could be evident differences seen such as technology proficiencies, capability, motivation, life-orientation, physical ability, responsibility, culture and educational backgrounds. These factors affect how the greying generations act and respond to company change, with higher expectations to boost the workforce productivity.

Therefore, young leaders should know how to best manage the older workers and, establish well-aligned multi-generational workforce management practices in place:

Throw Out All the Assumptions

General assumptions regards the aging workforce is widely-known to employers since decades ago. Some believe this generation finds it extremely difficult to learn new things and resist to change. While others possess a notion that older workforce are real hard workers, punctual employees who love to be disciplined and assertive in their job roles

As a young leader, you should be able to throw out all the assumptions and be objective in valuing your employees. Instead of undervaluing them, figure out their strengths and weaknesses and work on them.

Aging workers are great assets, equally an integral part of the company’s entire workforce, who deserve to be treated equally and given the same chance to thrive and pursue their career ambitions.

Respect the Culture

Young managers are brimming with new ideas to thrive and engage the workforce. However, managing people older than you is not as easy and simple.

Older generation workers were raised in a different culture and lifestyles, hence as a great leader you need to notice and understand how these thoughts affect their attitude and perspectives towards life and impact decisions-making abilities.

Instead of equally treating them like young colleagues and expecting them to level up to the change, young leaders should be able to adapt themselves to best approaches in communication with the older generation.

Respect is the primary prerequisite when asking for suggestions, resolving issues and conflicts or even rebuking mistakes without impacting professionalism, quality standards or hurt their feelings.

Ask for Help and Mentoring

Older employees are great assets as they tend to bring in rich experience, higher capabilities and greater dedication towards their job roles. As a young leader, asking for help to some staffers might seem awkward, but do not hesitate to ask for help when needed even to the older workforce.

This coordination between workers of different generations in a workplace culture builds loyalty and trust to strengthen employee relationships. Also, older workers can turn out to be great mentoring resources helping to contribute to skill enhancement and upgradation of  younger colleagues, and younger managers at work.

Be Open and Transparent

To be open and transparent in delivering the goals, expectations, business objectives and targets is important for managers, regardless if they are younger or older than most of the employees.

A clear communication with employees across all levels from different generations can fill the communication void, avoid misunderstandings and minimize the conflicts arising out of unresolved issues.

Retaining the aging workforce is complex, as they possess differences in perspectives and attitudes towards the younger generation.

Treating them with respect and nurturing their passion towards careers with understanding is critical to building an effective multigenerational workplace, wherein everybody, regardless of their age can thrive and work optimally in the company.

Next read: 5 Best Ways to Tackle an Angry Employee

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