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Three mistakes to avoid when supervising people your parents’ age


Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

My father-in-law, Bob Irvine, never lectured me when I was a young manager supervising much older employees. Instead, he laughed at “those young college guys who come in thinking they know everything and trying to prove to their bosses how smart they are. They sweep into the department acting like most of what we’ve done for years needs to be fixed. It takes nine months to train them on what doesn’t work when they get out of the classroom and into the real world. Then we can get back to making steel . . . for six months until they get transferred and we have to start over again with another one.”

Even though Bob’s been gone more than a decade now, these conversations we had while working on a car or cooking at the grill came back to me last week during a management seminar I was teaching. A participant asked one of the most common questions about generations: how do you manage people in generations older than you? The Millennial and younger Generation Xer managers nodded when I answered: the research shows that when a person is old enough to say to their boss, “I have boots older than you,” their boss has to lead rather than try to tell them what to do. Managing rather than leading is the most common problem that gets young managers on the road to a “big fail” with older employees.

I’ve seen young managers make three mistakes most often that keep them from leading employees the age of their parents….

Read my entire column here.

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