Managing “Us” Older Workers

Okay I admit it… I am a very late baby boomer and an older employee. I have been managing folks for over 28 years and have been managed for longer. There is so much talk about how to manage or supervise the various generations that are in the workplace. I have even written about it before. As the baby boomers continue to retire.. The other generations are taking on manager roles and are having to learn how to manage older employees.

From a manager trainer and older employee… Here is how I believe it goes:

  • Stereotypes need to be thrown away. Last time I checked they are wrong anyways. I have heard them – older employees are hard to train, are waiting to retire or hard workers that typically don’t help others. There are probably a few folks like that (in any generation). Older workers are just like everyone else. Treat them as such.
  • Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Don’t assume that older workers know what you expect. They may have been around the workplace longer, but that does not give them any leg up on what your expectations are.
  • Value our life experience. For me, I don’t mind sharing my experiences in almost every situation. It goes me the opportunity to help others learn faster. As a manager, you have team members that have been around and have many experiences that you have not. Use that wisdom for you benefit… Plus the older worker secretly like sharing.
  • Train us. Older workers are no different than the younger ones. Their training subject maybe different, but the need for training is no different.
  • Motivate us! As a manager, motivating is your key job. Key here is that older employees may have different “buttons” to help with motivation. I don’t know that using promotional opportunities will work.  Make sure that you take the time to figure out what those “buttons” are.
  • Be flexible, if at all possible. As we get older, we have a greater need for some flexibility. If you can give them the flexibility in their schedule it would be greatly appreciated. Let’s face it, doctor appointments for me have gone up over the past 3 years… I have had to have a more flexible schedule.
  • Use us as mentors. Let us coach and encourage the younger workers. I have yet to have an older worker that was not excited about sharing their knowledge and experiences. Giving them the opportunity will definitely help the entire organization.

While writing this, I started to think this sounds eerily similar to what every manager should be doing with all of their employees.  As a manager, you cannot go wrong with doing these… Any you would add? Subtract?

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