I took a position that put me in charge of a group of directs that are 15-30 years older. The position required a sound understanding of technology so I was able to bring my job knowledge up to par quite fast. My biggest struggle has been positioning myself with those directs so that I/we can be effective. I will be starting the one-on-ones soon and expect that to help a great deal. For me to continue to move forward I need to figure out a way to manage this group of directs which are not driven by the same opportunities and desires as I am b/c of the age difference. They see 8-4 and retirement, I see team success and career growth. And, I know this is a source of tension.

Mark's picture
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All of your directs all of your career will always be driven by a different set - no matter how subtle - of opportunities and desires. That's management - motivating diverse folks to achieve as a team. Do one on ones, ask lots of questions, learn what they want, do your best to allow them to achieve that while asking them to meet organizational goals. That's it.

If you can't figure out in the first week what each person wants, that's normal. Hell, 3 months isn't too slow, necessarily. For now, set deadlines and ask for best efforts. Over time you'll get better.

If they make REPEATED comments about age, etc., politely set them straight. You can give them feedback, as in: "When you joke about what you think of as my inexperience, here's what happens. I wonder how you would take it if I said, "he can't learn anything." You'd have a legivitmate issue with me if I said that.... and that means I'd have a legitimate issue with you if I wanted to make one. Anything you can do about this?"

Or, if you're feeling frisky, just jibe back: "yeah, and they say guys like you can't learn anything." Wink at them.

But only if you're feeling frisky.



Tola B's picture

I have exactly the same situation, and I found the information on this site particularly helpful.

(I hope it is okay to post this link)

Anyway, the thing that helped me is just realizing that they, being older workers, tend to be more respectful of my [i]position[/i] and so far I have not had any problems.

Mark's picture
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Great post of a helpful link. It's always okay to post stuff that members think will ethically and reasonably help other members.

Glad it helped you... the point it makes is valid.

I still can't help thinking that ALL of the brouhaha over generational differences in managing is nothing more than labeling without the overtones that come with things like racial labels.

If one wants to manage ANYBODY... just get to know them. Young or old, Type A or Type Z or Type who the heck cares... ask THEM what THEY want from THEIR career.

One could do it in, say, a weekly meeting one had with THEM... about THEM. ;-)

Thanks again!