It doesn’t take much to realize that people of different ages are at different points in their careers. Just take a look at Mark Zuckerberg, the 30-year-old founder of Facebook who’s worth close to $30 billion.
No matter where you find yourself on your entrepreneurial career path, whether you’re a 23-year-old entrepreneur or a 42-year-old small business owner, it’s very likely that if you manage people you’re going to be forced to manage people who are older than you, at least from time to time.
And that can create a difficult situation, where as a younger person, you might be privy to technology, for example, that is necessary for a particular role or industry. However, older employees might be completely unfamiliar with that technology. In such a situation, it might be difficult to approach such employees, as you want to show them respect and don’t want to discourage them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven tips you can keep in mind while dealing with managing older employees:
You might think that it’s intuitive to use Facebook and Twitter for social media marketing purposes. But it’s important to keep in mind that, chances are, you wouldn’t be too comfortable putting a record on a record player, which might be second nature to an older employee. So don’t criticize your older employees, and don’t talk down on them for not knowing something that you know. That’s not the way to get someone interested in what you have to say.
Do support and encourage.
Even though tweeting one thing might seem like an inconsequential task to you, for someone who doesn’t understand the technology, the whole experience could be overwhelming. So say you spend literally 15 minutes teaching someone how to tweet, even though it frustrates you to think that it would take more than 15 seconds. Once they send their first tweet, support and encourage them. Tell them they’ve done a great job.
Start off a training session or a conversation by letting your employees know that whatever questions they have, they should feel free to reach out to you at any given time. After all, you want to run your business as optimally as possible. You should desire to help your employees as much as you can.
Stick to the facts.
Maybe an older employee doesn’t understand Twitter and why it’s essential to his or her job. Tell him or her about all of the pertinent statistics—like how there are almost 650 million active users on the site and how it impacts your overall marketing strategy. When you back up what you’re saying with irrefutable facts, it will carry more weight.
You might be intimidated by having to train your older employees. But you shouldn’t be: You’re the boss. Keep in mind that confidence is attractive in any situation. The more confident you are, the more likely your older employees will be to show an affinity for you. If they sense weakness or indecisiveness, they might be likely to tune you out.
Technology terminology might be second nature to you, but it can be intimidating to someone who is unfamiliar with it. So don’t drown your older employees in a sea of language and jargon they don’t understand. You might tell them that tweets are posts, for example, so that they will understand it. The two words are essentially interchangeable, so tell them that. It will help them understand the new technology more.
Older employees might be hesitant to let you know that they don’t understand something you’re trying to explain. After all, they might think that because they are older, they should know about everything. So be sure to ask them questions. Do they understand everything? Is there anything that could be explained better? The more you ask questions, the more it shows you care. They will notice, and they will want to learn that much more.
Managing older employees can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By keeping these tips in mind, let’s hope it becomes easier.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger with a passion for business solutions and workplace management tips. Connect with @ProductiTheory on Twitter.
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