Millenials Managing Baby Boomers: Can It Work?
Posted on September 27, 2013 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
I am in a somewhat unique situation at work in which I sometimes supervise and direct the work of employees who are much older and more tenured than I am. However, it should be noted that this is becoming increasingly common as Millenials are finishing their education and advancing through their organizations at a fairly quick pace. While I am confident in my knowledge and ability to do my job well, I do still stumble when I find myself having to explain to a more tenured employee. That is, some individuals I interact with have been working in the organization for longer than I have been alive! Clearly, this makes for a somewhat strange dynamic.What often occurs is that I, or many other employees who must supervise employees older than they, try to avoid telling a more experienced employee what to do because I assume that they know something that I do not. Unfortunately, this can cause problems when I realize that the employee was not correct and subsequent corrections to the error must be made. Likewise, I find it difficult to win over more experienced employees (even in lower job classifications) when I need to assert my professional opinion on a subject.
To cope, I try to remind myself that mere age and years of experience alone do not warrant changing normal behavior. If there is something important to be said, the person who must hear the message should not impact what must be said (new or experienced). Further, I always try to remember that more experienced employees will likely not appreciate being told what to do by “the new guy”, but that doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable forever. After building a relationship and establishing trust, it seems as though the discomfort that comes with a newer employee directing a more experienced employee should be at least partially mitigated.
Do you think newer employees can successfully supervise the work of more experienced employees?