Ways for Millennials to Manage Older Direct Reports

Joe Weinlick
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Millennial managers are often tasked with supervising older employees, which requires taking a unique approach in order to develop a trusting relationship. By embracing leadership strategies that promote teamwork and mutual understanding, generation X managers can conquer the age gap and turn the opportunity into a positive experience for themselves as well as for their direct reports.

Tap Into the Knowledge

Direct reports who are older than you regularly possess vast comprehensions of the industry and the company. Millennial managers should use this knowledge to their advantage by requesting input from older employees to solve problems and improve processes. Let go of your ego and accept the fact that there are employees on staff who may be more in tune with certain aspects of how the company operates. By imploring their help, you give them recognition while tapping into their valuable experience, and that should lead to mutual respect and good working relationships with other members of the team.

Foster a Positive Environment

Don't just assume that older direct reports are skeptical of millennial managers or aren't collaborative. In fact, the opposite may be true in your workplace. Most of them probably have positive intent and are just as willing to be team players as your younger reports. Recognize that your older employees have outside responsibilities, too, and are just as invested in helping the company grow as you are on a daily basis. Take a deep breath and develop leadership strategies that encourage team-building activities that strengthen the company culture so employees of all ages can learn more about each other.

Promote Independence

Let go of any insecurities you have as a younger employee of the company, and allow older employees who have shown their skills and abilities to lead projects. Millennial managers can benefit from the example older reports provide. Recognize that older employees may feel as if they have something to prove when among the younger generation. Give your staff the opportunity to succeed by promoting independence and responsibility in the workplace.

Speak Their Language

Millennial employees are typically much more in tune with emerging technologies and social media, whereas the older generation is learning how to adapt to new processes and procedures in the workplace. Take the time to learn from your older reports about their professional history. Offer training to help them adapt and adjust to innovation in your company by using workplace language that is more familiar. Successful millennial managers learn how to recognize strengths and weaknesses of their employees by launching one-on-one conversations and investigating personal and professional goals to motivate the staff.

The role of millennial managers is evolving as they learn how to manage an ever-changing diverse staff. If they want to appeal to the older generation and be effective leaders, they need to develop strategies that help them leverage older team members' knowledge and strengths but also recognize their weaknesses and insecurities. By finding ways to engage this knowledgeable workforce, you can empower them to make a difference within your firm.

Photo courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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