Older Workers / Part 2:
What’s In A Number? Younger Bosses, Older Workers
Last month we focused on the rising tide of elder workers, and how some companies are even making “seniority” a job requirement! But how does this square with youthful managers, who may find themselves in the odd and potentially uncomfortable position of supervising a seasoned employee who is old enough to be their parent — or grandparent! It used to be the other way around.
How will the mature individual feel, working for someone perhaps half their age? And what can younger managers do to elicit mature workers’ cooperation and best work?
As a reverse mortgage professional, you’re in a unique position to understand these delicate business situations: you may meet with people old enough to be your parents every day. And while you’re not their boss, no doubt you’ve experienced some challenges sharing your expertise with people who may think you’re still “wet behind the ears.”
Here are five ways to become a senior ally and help them succeed in business as well:
- Keep an open mind. Chronological age is just a number. If an older employee has been with the company long enough to build a reputation for reliability and excellent work, they can also bring a new manager up to speed faster than any company manual or video. And if the mature worker is a new hire, consider that their wisdom and experience must have trumped their birth date.
- Clarify expectations. Employees nearer a supervisor’s own age may feel comfortable dropping by the boss’s office to chat or working out a problem in the hallway; older employees may feel that a dedicated worker ought to stay at his desk and only contact the boss with results. Encourage your older prospects to discover what styles of communication work best, both for them and for the company where they work.
- Adapt and train. For younger managers, texting is second nature. While mature workers are increasingly tech savvy, they may prefer email or phone. A simple texting (or other technology) tutorial might prove helpful.
- Avoid seeking advice. It can be tempting to ask an older employee or reverse mortgage prospect for guidance regarding personal matters, especially if he or she exudes a caring demeanor. Don’t. It’s wiser professionally to avoid muddying the waters. In your HECM meetings, keep the focus on business as well.
- Trust yourself. Consider that your prospect may feel similarly uncomfortable working with someone “so young,” at a job or when applying for a reverse mortgage. If you can support them in finding their footing and expanding their capabilities, you’ll set the stage for this new client to become an advocate to other reverse mortgage prospects down the road.