12 Tips for Managing Older or More Experienced Employees

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / January 6, 2014

Q. What’s one piece of advice you have for managing people who are older and/or more experienced than you?

Managing Older People

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Value the Gifts

We all have gifts to offer, regardless of age. My father started working for me three years ago, and although it was initially challenging, our culture has influenced him greatly. As a result, he has tapped into his own assets and shared them with our company. It’s about mutual respect. At times, it required more patience from many of us, but the reward has been monumental.
Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

2. Acknowledge Experience

Older and more experienced team members bringing their gifts to the table should never be discouraged. After all, you likely hired them because of their experience. At the same time, it’s important to remain the leader in the situation by thanking them for their quality input and then clearly giving your decision and next step. Acknowledge their input without acquiescing your role.
Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

3. Appreciate All Contributions

Regardless of a person’s background, it’s doubtful that anyone coming in to a company has the same perspective that you do on your particular project. Everyone in a company is there because they have something to contribute. As long as everyone is contributing toward the same goal, there’s no reason to feel threatened by another person’s age or experience.
– Phil Laboon, Clear Sky SEO

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4. Stay Humble

Startups are not for people who care about age. They are true meritocracies. Show confidence, show your worth, and remember, you are the boss.
Raaja Nemani, BucketFeet

5. Elicit Feedback

Although you’re the boss, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others. They likely have a lifetime of experience, and you can leverage that to improve your business.
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

6. Be Honest

Be honest about the things you are better and more experienced at, but also recognize the other person’s experience. Give him freedom within his domain of expertise and learn from him as much as possible while still teaching your trade.
Christopher Pruijsen, Sterio.me

7. Listen

Listen. Genuinely listen to what they have to say. Acknowledging their experience and taking it into consideration will demonstrate that you respect them. In turn, this will help them respect your abilities as a manager. Oh, and you might actually learn something along the way, you young whippersnapper.
Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

8. Leave Room for Surprises

With experience comes wisdom, so it might be hard to give any truly helpful advice to those more experienced than I am. However, with that being said, I feel that it’s always important to give yourself room to be surprised. Pleasant surprises come in all forms if you make the time and space for them. Never shut out someone or something because you feel giving it your time is beneath you.
Daniel Wesley, Creditloan.com

9. Know What Motivates Them

Regardless of age, skill level or job position, everyone is motivated by different things. Sure, managing someone older and more experienced can be intimidating, but if you find out what motivates them and what they want, then it doesn’t matter. They’ll respect you, and you can inspire them.
John Meyer, Lemon.ly

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10. Enable Them

Don’t manage them; enable them. Be there to remove obstacles and learn from them. You’re there as a colleague — not just a boss. If they respect you and what you stand for, there will be no issues working with them.
– Brian Wong, Kiip

11. Honor Experience

Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army at the age of 21, I learned quickly how to successfully (or not) manage people who were older than me and had more experience than I did. My biggest lesson during this critical development experience was to honor their experience. Having the humility to ask people questions about what they do and how they do it inspires trust.
Chris Cancialosi, gothamCulture

12. Debate With Them

I have several employees, mainly my executives, who are older than me and many have more years of experience. Ultimately they were hired for the value they bring to the company and it is important for me to keep that in mind. Still this doesn’t mean I back off from debating viewpoints with them. My advice is to debate with them regularly—they’re really smart and almost always improve my decisions.
Michael Seiman, CPXi

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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