Leading Experienced Employees for Dummies

Training Module for Leading Older and Experienced Employees

on November 9, 2012

The goal of this training module is to teach young managers how to deal with older and more experienced employees.  After reviewing this training module, we expect trainees to be able to effectively manage and communicate with these employees. This document will cover the four most essential components of leading these workers: Communication, Respect, Motivation and Experience.  Along with this document we have included multiple interviews of young managers and their experiences in these situations as well as other articles and explanations on how to manage effectively located below.

In addition to the trainee himself (herself), a senior manager (along with a pen and notepad) will be needed to carry out the training. Although there are not many, these items will be necessary for the training module to be effective. The trainee should first review the videos, document, etc.


The idea of respect is very important when effectively managing a team.  Respect needs to be given on both sides.  The younger/ new manager must respect the older/ more experienced staff members’ experience and these staff members, in turn, must respect the younger boss’s training and ability to rise so quickly in the industry.

Situational leadership is very important in gaining respect.  Often times, when a new manager comes into a company, there isn’t enough time to build a rapport with each individual employee before expecting results from them.  In this case, the way you communicate, delegate and facilitate decision-making becomes very important.  It is important to talk to other people in management-level positions to understand who responds well to what.  With that knowledge, it will be easier for you to delegate tasks properly and understand how each team member responds to management and different tasks.

In many cases, young/ new managers and leaders feel that proving yourself to be a hard worker and doing whatever it takes to be successful gains a lot of respect in the company and this has proven to be true.  Showing that you are in it for the good of the company begins to develop a sense of mutual trust between you and your team.  Coming into a company with an iron fist and heavy discipline will not return results, and, in many cases, leads to resentment and ridicule as well as, many times, failure for that company.  It is important to show respect to earn respect.  Exhibit confidence and listen to the concerns of your team.

Another important aspect in leading older/ more experienced employees is to really utilize their experience.  People love the feeling of teaching new things.  It is vitally important to request these workers’ opinions on various topics.  Expressing your interest in their past experiences helps them build a sense of trust in you and gains respect on both sides.  The older employee realizes that you as a manager genuinely care and respect their previous experience and they begin to want to help you grow as well.  Also, being the manager, it allows you to build a relationship and gain respect for the successes and failures of that employee’s past, many of which young managers have yet to experience.


Whether it is a new manager’s first time in a management position or they are just new to the company, they must keep the experienced workers who have been at the company for years in mind. It can be tempting to come in with the ideas you have acquired either from school or previous jobs and try to incorporate changes, but many employees may be resistant to change. Older workers are usually happy to share what they know about the people at the company, the job and how to be successful. Therefore, as a new manager, you should listen to stories and feedback that your seasoned workers want to share with you. If the opportunity arises, let older workers mentor you in some aspects.

Older workers know the ins and outs of the company and are experts at what they do. These employees are loyal to the company; they have been there through thick and thin. Older workers have developed good interpersonal skills and one-on-one relationships. They have made it this far for a reason and that can be an opportunity for new managers to integrate what is important to them into company changes. There is always time and opportunity to train in new areas in order to expand their experience and knowledge that they have. The great part about the experience that older workers have accumulated over the years is that they are very familiar with the company culture and procedures. The challenge with their level of experience is that they have gotten used to a certain culture and routine; so, they are comfortable with their knowledge and it becomes more difficult for them to accept changes.

Young managers have an advantage in that they are tech savvy. Generation X and Y have been exposed to technology their whole lives. Experience with technology is a resource that younger generations can use as a training tool and to gain credibility with older workers. The difference in learning about new technologies for young managers is that if they do not know how something functions, they are comfortable learning how to use it. Regardless of the employee’s age or experience level, all managers need to genuinely care about others, be a great motivator and bring out the best in their employees.


Communication is a necessary component in any industry, and inevitably has the power to control the success of a business. Unfortunately, there is no set standard of proper communication in the work place—every employee has a different opinion on what may be considered “appropriate” interaction. Different generations often have different views on what makes for effective contact, and there is a large gap in understanding between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y. With the sudden influx of Millennials flooding the business workforce, verbal exchanges have been forced to acclimate to a new societal norm. This mandatory widespread change in communication may mean that older employees are at a loss, but it could also make them more valuable to the company. Business consultant Stephen Bastien believes that there are several benefits to employing more experienced people, one being that “older workers understand workplace politics and know how to diplomatically convey their ideas to the boss” (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/167500).
Communication is essential to link the generational gap between old and young employees. Michelle McGriff, author from eHow.com, focuses on understanding what motivates different people and targets those areas. Younger generations are often motivated by the idea of moving up in the company and expanding their network, whereas older employees are often focused on more extrinsic values—retirement plans, benefits, and insurance (http://www.ehow.com/about_6162314_can-between-old-young-employees_.html). Being able to understand and apply these motivators can help a young manager successfully communicate goals.
Facilitating communication between older and younger team members can also be beneficial for a business. Finding common ground and encouraging “Group Think” increases the likelihood for “innovative ideas to grow and flourish” (http://www.ehow.com/about_6162314_can-between-old-young-employees_.html). Both age groups can learn from each other; older staff members benefit from “youthful views and know-how on new technologies,” while younger team members gain invaluable insight from past and personal experiences (http://www.ehow.com/about_6162314_can-between-old-young-employees_.html). This collaboration of different ideas is progressive and facilitates positive interaction between staff.


Determining the best way(s) to motivate your older/ more seasoned employees may prove to be quite a daunting task as a new/ young manager. These workers have been doing their job for quite some time now as well as have been loyal to the company. However, the following tips may prove useful in easing that process.
One of the most important actions you can take is showing them the respect they deserve. Obviously, they know what they are doing or they would not have remained with the company that long in their current position. This is simply reiterating the fact that you should avoid attempting to enforce a “my way or the highway” policy because they may know something that works better than you do.
This leads to the next point of fostering a sense of a team culture. If and when you, as a new manager, are attempting to implement a new policy/procedure, be sure to ask the experienced employees’ thoughts, opinions, etc. Such an action can even be taken when a problem arises that you may not have the solution for. Employees who have been with the company for quite some time have already probably experienced this problem and know the best solution.
Whenever possible, be flexible. Try to find a happy medium between your style for completing a task while integrating an older employee’s traditional style, for example. These employees will put forth more of an effort into their work if they know that their ideas were used as a part of the process for carrying out a task.
Going along with the action of showing respect for these employees is showing them the appreciation they deserve for their hard work. This involves interacting with them in an appropriate manner, including using such phrases as “please” and “thank you” as well as asking them to complete a task as opposed to demanding them to. Also, congratulate them on a job well done when they deserve it.
Part of motivating older/ experienced employees is generating enthusiasm among them. You may want to consider putting on an annual awards gala where you celebrate their anniversary with the company. Better yet, whenever a special project comes up, ask if they would care to partake in it.
If at all possible, talk to human resources about revamping the compensation and benefits package. For an older employee, this may be an on-site fitness center, 401K plan, and discounted health insurance. Considering they are older, some of them have families and would like more flexible family-leave options also.

Tryout/Follow Up

These are the four components of management that we believe are essential to lead a group of older/experienced employees.  After reviewing the training module, it would be beneficial if a senior manager would evaluate the trainee’s behavior and actions during a shift and, afterwards, the trainee should mention areas where they excelled as as well as those areas that need improvement. The senior manager should then provide the trainee with feedback as to their perception of where they can improve as well as where they did well.  Using this feedback, the trainee can continue to hone their leadership skills and improve as necessary.

Sources Used for This Project












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