WORKING with the younger generation may not always be easy for senior citizens who may find the younger people disrespectful and over eager to change the way things are done.
Puan Sri T.D. Ampikaipakan, consultant and trainer of Ampi Skill Builders, says younger and older workers should complement each other in the workplace.
“It’s about being savvy about each other. If the young people want to grow in the corporate world, they need someone who can teach them and mentor them.
“Both the younger and older workers have to manage their expectations,” she says, adding that communication is key, especially if you want to avoid having a generation gap.
She provides some tips for retirees who find it challenging working with the younger generation:
1) Show signs of learning to deal with a modern age.
The seniors have to understand if their staff says, “I can’t stay late, boss; I’ve got a hot date today.” The senior citizen who is the boss has to understand that the junior has a hot date and he might just end up marrying the girl. But the seniors must also be savvy enough to know who works hard and who doesn’t.
2) Make careers for young people.
Don’t just encourage people verbally to grow; why don’t you let a young person grow? If you see that a young person is talented, why don’t you put him as the leader of a team? Give him a challenge; let him do something. If you yourself want to move up the corporate ladder you have to get up from your seat. If you hold on to your seat, nothing is going to happen.
If an organisation does not give someone a career path in five years, they have to move. If not, they might become deadwood.
3) Don’t write anybody off.
The problem with senior citizens is they write people off. Because somebody is cheeky or cocky, they write him off. He’s cocky because he thinks he’s clever; so be it. See what you can do to make him shine in whatever he does.
4) Don’t compare them with yourself.
Anything that starts with “In my day …” or “In my time …” is a no-no. You can’t compare. Those were days when life was hard and now life is good. The younger generation doesn’t appreciate listening to these stories because they don’t know what is a hard life. When you start comparing, you put them off completely.
5) Share information and knowledge.
A lot of people are selfish about sharing information. Even if you think that a young employee might eventually leave the company, you should still share information.
6) Let the juniors lead.
If you see a young guy working for you who is very smart, nurture him, take him around and ask him to learn from what you do. Then let him start taking over and doing presentations himself. It should be a training/teaching kind of environment.
7) Maximise strengths.
Whether the senior citizen is the boss or the employee, they should maximise their strengths and learn to negotiate and deal with situations.
The young ones will have new ideas and the older ones have so much information. If the young person comes up with an idea, surely that idea has been tried before. They’re not inventing the wheel again. Perhaps the older person can relate how it didn’t work in the past and the younger one might have an idea for how it might work now. Maybe what didn’t work then, will work now.
8) Build bridges.
The seniors should build bridges. The younger ones may be a little odd sometimes, or a little frightened. But the older people can always build and mend bridges. If they know how to do something and the younger one doesn’t, they can offer to help the younger staff. They can also offer to mentor the younger worker.
9) Keep an open mind.
Seniors definitely need to have an open mind about how young people think. Their way of life and their outlook is bound to be different.
“If the senior citizens are unwilling to help out, then it will be up to the young ones to make the first move if they really want to learn the tricks of the trade,” says Ampikaipakan, emphasising that there must be compromise between the two generations.