Research shows that, by 2022, one in three people of working age in Wales will be age 50 and over (1). What most people don’t realise is that an older worker is defined as someone who is aged 50 and over.
And so there will be many middle managers that find themselves in situations where they are managing someone aged 50 and over. A middle manager is someone who manages at least one lower level member of staff, and reports to higher level of managers within the organisation.
They are often one of the most crucial elements of the business, carrying out the strategic directions of upper-level management while supervising the junior members of the business.
But how do middle managers ensure success when it comes to managing an age-diverse workforce.
Here are six tips to help you on your way to become the perfect middle manager:
- Be respectful
Have respect for your team members as working professionals and age won’t be an issue. We are all humans and so as a manager you should treat your team as equals. Older workers rank high in professionalism; show them respect and they’ll show you respect back.
- Create an enthusiastic and motivating culture
Many older workers still have as much drive for work as they did when they entered the job market. Providing them with an encouraging and positive work culture will give them the opportunity to push themselves to achieve the best they can- for themselves and the business. Create goals and objectives that your older workers can work towards and look to them for advice on how to create a better work environment.
- Establish good working relationships
Building good working relationships with your peers is essential to building a united team. Relationships can positively or negatively affect job satisfaction and so to keep your valuable older workers from jumping ship, build and maintain respectful relationships, where everyone is valued. Consider organising weekly team lunches or lunchtime learning sessions to give your team the opportunity to interact and develop working relationships.
- Lead without authority
Good managers lead by example. If your team knows that you have their best interests at heart, they will work hard to help you achieve your goals. If there is a good management structure in place, age becomes a non-factor. Look at your superior’s management style and look at how they communicate with their team. Is there anything you can learn from them? Take notes and put your learning into practice.
Communicate with your staff, not to your staff. This means listening and making sure everyone’s voice is heard. Older workers generally come with years of experience and so have learnt valuable lessons in life that as a middle manager, you can learn from. Older workers can bring valuable insights about industry changes, client relations and working methods and so you should take every opportunity to listen to their advice.
- Encourage a healthy work/life balance
Older workers may have more caring responsibilities or health issues than their younger colleagues which will require a flexible attitude to management style. Speak with your employees and make time to understand what support they need. Companies lose great talent because older workers can’t juggle their caring/health needs and aren’t aware that they could work in a different way. Consider offering your older workers reduced hours, the opportunity to work from home or a flexible working schedule.
To be successful when managing people aged 50 and over, you need to be fair, flexible and respectful. See your team’s strengths and not their age.
Initiatives such as the Welsh Government’s People Don’t Have A ‘Best Before’ Date’, point out the critical importance of older workers to businesses, and why businesses should invest in its ageing workforce.
For employers looking for more information on how they can invest in everyone’s skills, the Welsh Government’s Skills Gateway for Business – www.businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway has a range of advice and guidance.