Calling all over-achievers! If you’re anything like me then you often find yourself working with and needing to influence a crowd that is both younger and older than you. My career has been one advancement after another. I was the youngest partner in an engineering firm – more than 10 years ago. In that role I was almost 10 years younger than the next oldest partner. This means that I’ve been the ‘young pup’ for a long time. But, in that role, I’ve also been asked to lead teams, offices and disciplines with staff much older than me. And, yes… I’ve goofed it up before.
No matter your age or role in a company, you’re going to have to work with people of all ages. But, how do you:
- Supervise your elders without being the sassy kid that gets dismissed because he/she is too wet behind the ears
- Work with your peers that haven seen the advancements you have without turning into a total jerk
- Work with those younger that you that threaten your position because they’re over achievers too
Well, the wisdom of Paul in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 gives us a very real answer. In this piece of scripture we see the…
4 Ways Anyone Can Earn & Maintain Respect Within a Diverse Workplace
- Do Not Sharply Rebuke an Older Man – when we start working with people that have lived more life that we have it is important to remember that their years bring wisdom and experience from which we can learn. While we may be their supervisors, we need to respect their vision, their purpose and their outlook.
- Appeal to the Younger Men as Brothers – if we see those on our team as family, we’re more apt to honor their different opinions, be patient with their exuberance or look to them for a fresh perspective. As we work through our day, we need to recognize that youth is not an excuse to dismiss a point of view.
- Appeal to the Older Women as Mothers – there is something special about the care, concern and gentle guidance that mothers seem to innately posses. If we honor the nurturing with which they’ve been gifted, we may find ourselves acting more kind and merciful towards others. Please bear in mind, that this nurturing in no way indicates weakness. I often find that those women I work with are more resilient than most.
- Appeal to the Younger Women as Sisters (in all purity) – there is a word of caution and honor as we look toward the younger women on our staff. We are to see them as God sees them and have a heart for their success. This means that we provide protection where needed, guidance and support where warranted and respect always. These are the future mothers of the organization – tenacious…caring and sharp!
What Action Are Your Going to Take To Gain & Maintain Respect Within a Diverse Workplace?
If we continue doing what we always do, nothing will change. However, what would happen if we decided – today – to do something completely different? What would happen if you started your day with a list of wise men, bright and energetic brothers, caring and resilient mothers, and sharp and caring sisters at your side? All you have to do is list their names and start working with them to understand their perspectives. In fact, if might be interesting to ask them each 4 questions:
- What is one thing that our organization does right that we need to keep doing?
- What is one bad habit our organization has that it needs to stop right away?
- What is one thing our organization doesn’t offer that it should?
- What is one way that I (as your coworker, supervisor, direct report) can serve you better?
If we took these questions seriously and acted on them as we discovered them, we could transform the culture in the office within only a few short weeks. In addition, by including everyone else in the decision making and culture-forming processes, we can display the love of Christ in a very real way.
May God richly bless you and your business!