Millennials are known as the generation of smartphones, over-priced coffee, and a reputation for entitlement and leisureliness. Despite this, the success of millennials is becoming increasingly apparent in the workplace. Look around your office and you’ll probably notice the ages of both employees and managers is decreasing significantly. A recent survey by office-equipment maker Pitney Bowes found that about 20% of mid-level corporate employees now report to a boss who is younger than they are.
However, in this age of entrepreneurial startups and advancing technology, different work styles and perceptions of those differences can create many challenges. For example, there is a stark difference between millennials and baby boomers. While older workers spend more time in the office within regular work hours, the younger generation often prefers getting their work done whenever, whether at home or from their laptop in a café. These kinds of philosophical differences can have negative effects on productivity. However, there are ways for younger people in authority to handle this gap. Below are a few tips on how to instill authority and respect in the workplace.
Older employees can certainly be put off by having to report to a younger manager. It’s important to be aware of those feelings and acknowledge them. Don’t assume you have the upper hand due to your higher position. Express an interest in your employee and ask them for their opinions on how you can improve as a leader. They may very well have insights that can benefit you, and they will appreciate your respect for their experience and knowledge.
Give and Take
Give lessons, provide feedback, and offer firm and feasible guidelines for your employees. In return, take feedback as well. Older employees are often more knowledgeable about the company and its history. Take advantage of their deeper well of experience, both in the office and generally in life.
Do Your Job
It can be daunting being a young manager. However, instead of shying away from being an authoritative, strong leader, it’s important to keep your goals in mind and get the job done. Not confronting older employees who aren’t working to their full potential, or letting others take the lead merely to make them more comfortable, will only decrease productivity. You’re the manager for a reason; prove why.
Older employees should implement these tips in the workplace as well. Along with being mindful, providing feedback, and doing their own jobs, it’s important for older employees not to get too bogged down in ego and commit to working with a younger manager. The knowledge and experience of the older generation and fresh perspective and energy of the younger age group can be combined to contribute to the workplace in a positive manner. Getting past age discrimination – from both sides – will help everyone work together and be more productive.
Tasnia Nasar | The Edge Blog