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As a young manager, I find it difficult to manage older employees.  When I first became a manager, one of the very first challenges I encountered was giving an employee feedback. The reason why this was such a challenge was because this particular employee used to be the manager of my department, and now reports directly to me. I was providing this employee feedback on how to complete a process more efficiently. It was an awkward and uncomfortable conversation for both myself and the employee. While it was challenging for me to provide feedback to this employee, it was clear that it was equally challenging for her to receive it.  Providing training programs that not only identify the types of employees one will have as a manager, as well as taking that training further by learning from and understanding your employees, will create a respectful workplace environment.  Mutual respect is the key to learning how to effectively manage a multi-generational workforce.

Younger managers can have a difficult time managing older employees. Similarly, older employees may have a harder time taking direction from a younger manager. Conflict can occur in every work environment; however, when employees can respect and acknowledge their differences, workplaces are happier and more engaged. Every generation has experienced different challenges. The type of person you are today is defined by your experiences. For example, because baby boomers have been in charge the longest, it can be difficult for this generation to give up that control to a younger manager. Similarly, it can be very frustrating when a younger manager is trying to implement change, and an older employee immediately transitions into a “back in the day” or “this is how we have always done it” mentality. Younger managers are known for multitasking, and they have the ability to talk, listen and text simultaneously, which can annoy many older employees.  It is important to remember that older employees can experience a greater learning curve when it comes to enhancements in technology or process changes within an organization. However, they can also add great value with their wisdom and experience. In my experience, I have found it very helpful to run ideas by tenured employees, and often times I will gain a perspective I did not have. On-the-job knowledge and years of experience cannot be replaced and is often invaluable.

Different generations have a lot to learn from one another, and young managers will get along well with older employees if they value their opinions and demonstrate respect. If younger managers do not understand their older employees, it can cause a rift in the workplace.  Typically, older employees have a harder time with change and expect communication that is more personable. Younger employees and managers are accustomed to email and virtual relationships because it is easier, efficient and provides documentation for a conversation. It can be difficult to find a medium of communication that accommodates everyone. Younger managers, and even older ones, have different approaches to managing based on the various events that shaped who they are, their values and ideas. 

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