Coaching the Older Team Member
For a new manager, managing a technically experienced older team member who's been there for a while and who doesn't necessarily respect a new manager who's come on the scene can be very challenging. It takes a while to build up and earn respect. Here are some things you can do to start winning them over.
It's important to have a conversation about the situation - a very specific coaching conversation. It may go along the lines of:
"I understand that I'm new into this role. I would like to sit down with you and work out our goals, our roles, working together, and how we may contribute to the effective running of this situation."
It's being really upfront and being really specific about what you want to achieve as a manager and getting the message to the employee about what you want them to contribute as well.
That does a couple of things. It helps the older team member see that you have a plan and want their help and expertise.
It also goes a long way to invite their commitment and their experience.
If you find that older team members roll their eyes and you hear "we've tried all this before,", and then tap into this. Drill down with open questions to find out why things didn't work out before.
This is excellent learning for the new manager and promotes respect toward the older team member.
It's really all about acknowledging the older person's experience and tapping into it and drawing on it and really inviting them to contribute.
Depending on the situation, the new manager can even acknowledge that they're a little bit inexperienced in relation to the older person and then go on to say what they DO bring to the role. You can
talk about the extent of your experience, and how I may be feeling about this new role.
It might be a conversation along the lines of, "I understand you have lots of experience in this company as a Project Manager" or whatever their role is. "I hope that we can combine your experience with a couple of activities or processes that I would like to see implemented as well. Let's reach our goal on how we may mix the two of them and achieve this together."
Remember that a lot of what we're talking about is anxiety. It's important for both parties to manage that anxiety.
This open inquiring coaching approach can be used in a number of settings because its aim is to get the older person talking and contributing by asking open questions.