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Leading a team with people older than you? Don't remind them of age, be open to their ideas

With CEOs getting younger, it’s important to remember these tips to respect those older than you.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Apr 16, 2019, 11.08 AM IST
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Ageism, like sexism, is often an underlying concern for those in a big organisation.
Respect your elders is something we’ve all been taught to do as children. And it seemed easy enough: Yes, please, no thank you and limited talking back.

But, how does it translate into adulthood when we get out into the corporate world? CEOs and top management are getting younger, while the share of workers age 55 and older will increase, with data showing it upping to 25 per cent by 2022.

Ageism, like sexism, is often an underlying concern for those in a big organisation. But if you lead a team with people older than you, here’s what you need to keep in mind so that you can be responsible and respectful.

All ears
Old school may not be something that modernday CEOs agree with. But try listening to those older than you to understand their point and not just for politeness. It will not only make you more respectful, but also give you a new perspective. At times, people are quick to dismiss those older than them if they consider them irrelevant. Yet a good leader knows that having the courtesy to try to understand people across the board and at different levels will only be beneficial. When you look outside your usual circle, you may be surprised at what you find.

Focus on results

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Try to not put so much emphasis on the process, but the results.

Technology is moving at such a fast pace that sometimes, the best of us struggle to keep up. Older people at the workplace may not always adapt quickly (it would help to get HR to organise classes in tech if it is crucial to the running of your company) but you need to realise that each person has their own way of doing things. Try to not put so much emphasis on the process, but the results. Older people in your team do their work in their own way, so forcing your methods could shake their confidence. Older doesn’t always mean wiser, but it does mean experience to get the job done.

Know your audience
It’s very easy to roll out the YOLOs (you only live once) and FOMOs (fear of missing out) when you’re surrounded by millennials. But if you have a mixed audience, don’t alienate them by throwing around words and phrases that only some will understand. As a leader or employee, you need to appeal to everyone. That is first reflected in your language. Keep the modern lingo down. It will show that you’re mature, respectful and know your way around a dictionary.

Reel it in
If someone is old, they know. You don’t have to point it out to them. Pointing out someone’s age in a less than flattering way is not cool anywhere, least of all at work. You don’t need to ask your older colleagues how old they are and you certainly don’t need to keep reminding them of their age.

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