And how to handle managing employees who might be older than you.
Kids today. They don’t know nothin’. Right? That’s why we see so many articles and blog posts and this and that about how to properly manage them, right? And that’s why so many of them are forgoing the stereotypical “backpacking around Europe” phase of their post-collegiate life and diving right into work, bordering on annoying their managers with their tenacity and eventually climbing the ladder higher than anyone thought possible — or starting their own companies that are runaway successes and effectively being able to retire before hitting the ripe old age of 30.
So, let’s say the moose-hide Mukluks are on the other foot and you’re one of these young’ns who finds themselves suddenly managing a workforce of older employees. I can tell you from firsthand experience: Some people bristle at it. They’ll treat you ways they wouldn’t dream of people they perceive to be their equals at least who have the same pop-culture frame of reference as them. It sucks, and eventually it goes away, but there are ways to speed this whole process up.
Business Insider has the scoop on the poop:
When millennials start to manage older workers there is a tendency to underestimate how generational differences play out in the workplace. It is natural to assume that people think and like to communicate the same way you do. New managers need to take the time to understand generational differences. While it is natural for us to text an employee about an important task, those from the Baby Boomer generation prefer face-to-face communication. Take the time to learn the differences between each generation and leverage the experience of older employees to avoid pitfalls they may have already experienced. Don’t take the “because I’m the boss” attitude; instead explain the “why” behind certain decisions you make to your employees and get their input ahead of time on things that affect them.
Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it, and sometimes you need to take more serious action: What I’d recommend (though never done) is suggest grabbing a coffee break and ask directly what they’re concerned or bothered by. People love to squirm out of these uncomfortable conversations because they’ll be awkward for a few moments, but it’s from those handful of moments that a meaningful, productive working relationship can blossom. Or you can just ignore it forever and let it fester and explode into something truly ugly.
Read more on being a younger manager at Business Insider.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.