Talent

Train Young Leaders on How to Bridge the Generation Gap

The first two best practices are to give respect to older employees and to leverage their experience to help the team work through tough situations.
3. Be inclusive
Once you earn their respect and capitalize on their level of experience, you can begin to shift your attention to making your team members feel included. Since you are a new leader, you are still developing your leadership style and gaining on-the-job experience everyday. I came to the realization that I should not be afraid to include my team in some of the decisions I was making and ideas I was considering.
Once I began including them in the decision-making process, I was able to get more buy-in from the team. I even found that they had some really great ideas. I saw that the generalized perception of younger leaders is that they are very prideful and arrogant to the point where they would frequently fail to include their team in large decisions that affect the way they perform their jobs. Many young leaders have the tendency to feel threatened by the experience and age of the older members of their team, when, in fact, they should have confidence in their position and include the team in the process.
When I was able to get more buy-in, my team rose to new levels, and our performance exceeded everyone’s expectations. At one point, we were able to take the hotel to a #1 ranking in the brand for guest satisfaction, all with a key leader still in college!
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4. Share your knowledge
The trend in the industry has been that many of the older workers never completed a 4-year bachelor’s degree, as it was not required in the past. Many of the newer leaders in the industry are equipped with this degree and a good amount of book knowledge. The tendency of the younger workers is to feel like they have an advantage over the workers without a degree.
I realized that there was a tension here between the older and younger team members, and I was able to utilize my schooling to benefit my career path without making anyone who was less educated feel incompetent. Once I was able to earn the respect of my team and include them in some key decisions, I was comfortable enough with them to begin sharing some of the book knowledge I possessed. While they were teaching me the things they had learned while working in the industry, I, in turn, was able to teach them some of the knowledge they didn’t have the time or opportunity to acquire.
The majority of the knowledge that I was able to impart related to some technological advancements made over the past few years. My older team members enjoyed learning how to fully utilize programs like Microsoft® Excel and Outlook to their advantage. If younger leaders take the time to build a solid rapport with their team, they should be able to impart the knowledge to the older generation without making them feel less valued.
The most successful young leaders will give respect to their teams, leverage their experience, include them in the decision-making process, and then share their knowledge. Following the framework laid out in this article is an excellent start to navigating through the difficult waters of leading a team of older, more experienced members.
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How is your company doing with training new managers and supervisors to be effective leaders so that they can contribute to your company’s success? Are they making mistakes from lack of training? Do they have time for adequate training?
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The Leadership Library, for example, provides you with a sensible (and economic) solution.
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This turnkey service requires no setup, no course development time, no software installation, and no new hardware. Your employees can self-register, and training can be taken anytime (24/7), anywhere there is a PC and an Internet connection. Courses take only about 30 minutes to complete.
TrainingToday automatically documents training. As trainees sign on, their identifications are automatically registered. When the program is completed, the trainee’s score is entered. So, when you want to see who has been trained on any subject or look at the across-the-board activity of any one employee, it’s all there, instantly available.
Course certificates can be automatically generated from within the training center and are automatically retained for recordkeeping purposes.
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