In the business world, it can be difficult for younger people to successfully manage those who are older than they are. This is partially because we are taught to respect our elders, and it is partially because those who are older may believe that their life experience informs them in a way that a younger person may not understand. What should a CEO do to ensure that older executives respect his or her authority and follow his or her lead?
Find People Who Fit the Company Culture
No matter how old an executive may be, he or she should be a good fit for the company and the culture that it is trying to establish. If two people share a common vision, they tend to work better together no matter what their differences may be. For instance, if you are trying to build a company that is focused on empowering employees to make consumers happy, management should be on board with that philosophy. Otherwise, you may be forced to get rid of top executives regardless of generational differences.
You Set the Tone for the Company
As the CEO, you are the one who sets the tone for the rest of the company. Everyone else in the company works to further your vision and execute your plan for the business. As a young person, it may be intimidating to approach an experienced and successful individual and tell him or her to do something differently. However, if you aren't clear with your expectations and what you want your executive team to accomplish, they may revert to what has worked for them in the past even if it doesn't mesh with your goals.
Talk to Your Employees Whenever Possible
Your employees are the ones who are generally responsible for making the product that you sell or performing the services that you offer to customers. They may also be the ones talking on the phone or meeting with customers in person to address their questions or concerns. By talking to your employees on a regular basis, you get a better sense of what they experience on a daily basis and what they feel could be improved. From there, you can take action to either get your managers to adjust to those needs or find managers who are better suited to address the issues within the company.
Get Involved With the Hiring Process
Whether you are running one the biggest elearning companies in the country or have created a startup, make sure that you take an active role in the hiring process. This gives you an opportunity to choose executives that are the best fit for your business as well as develop a professional rapport with them right away. It also gives you a chance to meet any candidates that may be working under your management team. Overall, it provides an opportunity to better understand who works for you, what their business philosophies are and whether they give your company the best chance to succeed.
Older Doesn't Mean Perfect
As we get older, we may think that there is nothing left to learn about business or about life in general. However, this is not the case, and it is something that younger CEOs should take advantage of. One way to manage an executive is to take an active role in his or her development. For example, someone who may be wary of using social media may feel that way because he or she doesn't understand how to use it effectively. With a little coaching, that person may start to see how it helps the company and start to come around to your way of running the company. This may result in a renewed respect for your ability, an executive who better aligns with your vision and more money for your company.
In the business world, age is nothing but a number. The key to managing older workers is to assert your authority early and let them know that you won't tolerate disrespect or insubordination. By taking an active role in the hiring and coaching process, you can better learn how to find the right people for your business and help them reach their true potential.
Lance Noland writes the business and leadership spaces, and is especially curious about eLearning and gamification. He grew up just outside of Juneau, Alaska where he developed a love for photography, nature and writing.