Posted by Michelle Schusterman on Monday, July 28, 2014 - 00:00
Maybe you’ve just been given a well-deserved promotion. Or perhaps you’ve landed a new position in a senior role at a different organization. Now you have an entire finance and accounting staff to oversee.
The catch? They’re all older than you.
An age difference can make managing older employees a challenge. But age aside, you’re the boss now. By avoiding a few typical “young boss” pitfalls, you can survive and thrive in your new position and gain the respect of your staff with effective workplace management approaches that maximize age diversity with a multigenerational workforce.
Be confident, but not too confident.
While it’s true that some employees might roll their eyes if you're younger than them, many probably won’t notice or care. What your staff will notice is a lack of confidence.
Exuding confidence doesn’t mean suddenly starting to showboat or act like a dictator, however. When you stand up in front of your staff, treat them the same way you’d treat a team of peers your age or younger. Your leadership skills have gotten you this far in your career — don’t let go of them now!
Get to know them ... or not.
Don't avoid trying to relate to their older employees. This becomes especially problematic if you take the time to joke around with those closer to your own age. Your older employees may be a generation ahead of you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take an interest in their lives and establish a personal connection. Some managers prefer to keep their distance, while others enjoy being friendly with their staff. Whatever workplace management style you prefer, be sure to keep it consistent across the board, regardless of age.
Ask for input.
Nothing will put employees off more than a manager who can’t admit when he or she is wrong or is too proud to accept advice or help. You’re in charge, but your staff is made of financial and accounting experts with a unique array of experiences and education. Similarly, the final decision may be up to you, but put the focus on teamwork, communication and reaching common goals. By asking for their input and assistance, you’ll demonstrate your trust and respect for their expertise, and, in turn, they’ll respect you.
Confront when necessary.
An extra decade of experience doesn’t excuse an employee from slacking off or breaking the rules, and ignoring such infractions is poor workplace management. Don’t be afraid to provide constructive criticism of workers when necessary, regardless of their age. Part of being a leader is holding your individual team members accountable, and by letting things slide with one worker, you’ll set a bad precedent that will be hard to recover from.
Do you have experience managing older employees or dealing with a generation gap? Share your advice and insight in the comments below. Need more workplace management tips? You’ll find them on the Robert Half Finance & Accounting Blog.