Magazine article Success

Does Age Matter? How Young Leaders Can Manage Their Elders Effectively-And Vice Versa

Magazine article Success

Does Age Matter? How Young Leaders Can Manage Their Elders Effectively-And Vice Versa

Article excerpt

MY MENTOR and I sat in a crowded restaurant. When he ordered fried food as an appetizer, I knew something was up. Then he said it: After 33 years, he was retiring. He had reached the mandatory retirement age for his company and was officially stepping down. "I can't choose my age," he said, "but I can choose my attitude." Apparently his attitude involved fishing.

Our conversation moved to his sharing how he once was the youngest person in the room. Eventually he became the oldest. He said one irony is that in his day, young people--apparently my age--would rarely find themselves in situations where they were managing people older than themselves. Today this is common, of course. And as he pointed out, you have to be able to manage people younger and older.

Teaching how to manage people of all ages is a passion of mine. Here are 4.5 tips for managing people who are not near you in age:

1. Don't assume people older than you think you're too young for your job. Just because you're the age of their kids doesn't mean they intend to treat you like one--unless you bring your mom to work. (That one is pretty much unrecoverable.)

2. On the flip side, don't assume employees younger than you think you're not the right person to lead them. While younger workers may appear more comfortable with newer technology, being an outstanding manager involves soft skills and wisdom that comes only through years of experience.

3. Let people of every age know that you respect what they bring to the job. …

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