Get-It-Done Guy tackles the difficult problem of managing people older than you.
Today’s topic is how to manage people older than you. The quick and dirty tip is to acknowledge the difference in age and experience, ask for help, and to some extent, let them manage you.
Listener Peter wrote in, concerned.
I am currently getting trained in work to become a manager. I am really looking forward to the challenge, but I am much younger than my team. My age provides a lack of experience. What can I do?
Welcome to the world of management, Peter! In Corporate America, we pride ourselves on hiring only the best and the brightest. Of course, some are more best, and more brightest than others. We give those whips, so they can reduce the Lesser Best and Brightest to quivering piles of terrified jelly. We call this, “management.” When they get really good, they just have to snap their fingers to get results. We call this, “You go, girl!”
We spend a fortune selecting the right people, so why train them? They might run off and get a job somewhere else. And we can't have that after investing so much time in them, can we? People are our most important asset, and we can't have that asset running off.
That sounds like satire, but sometimes, it's just true. I once planned a book called “A Handbook for First-Time Managers,” before realizing that first-time managers have no training budget and no way to pay for the book.
Acknowledge the White Elephant in the Room
You're younger than your team. So don't pretend you're not. They are more experienced than you, and they may not be thrilled about having a younger manager, especially if you're a lot younger. Start by acknowledging your age difference and discuss whether that's a problem for people.