How young managers bridge the generation gap

Catherine Gambrellis is chief executive officer of removalists Two Men And A Truck, a company her father, Richard Kuipers, started. When she took over its management she was 26 and many of her employees were over 40.

Catherine Gambrellis is chief executive officer of removalists Two Men And A Truck, a company her father, Richard Kuipers, started. When she took over its management she was 26 and many of her employees were over 40.

At that time she found her age was an issue. "I used to find it confronting having to tell someone older than me that they weren't performing," she says. "I don't have an issue with it now, but back when I took over I was in the mindset of respecting my elders - which I still do - but I quickly realised I needed to find a balance as I wasn't able to articulate to older staff where they needed to improve."

She says some of the initial issues she dealt with revolved around technology. "Some of my staff really needed convincing that technology could help them," she says.

"But once they got it, they thought it was fantastic. I had one employee who refused to use an iPad, saying that pen and paper had always been OK for him. Now he's beside himself if he leaves for a job without it."

Ms Gambrellis says the way she deals with issues involving older staff is to take time to talk them through the process. "I do actually prefer working with older employees," she says. "They are more reliable than Gen Y, and you don't have to coax them to work for you by offering lots of bells and whistles."

Heidi Holmes, 31, runs job agency Adage, which specialises in placing older workers. She says if younger managers have issues with older workers it is usually down to perception.

"Whenever there is a reluctance to recruit an older worker, who I define as over 45, it is because they are viewed as not being willing to embrace change, or will be unable to use technology," Ms Holmes says. "But I never have any employers coming back to me and saying this has been the case."

She says managers have to acknowledge that today's workforce is more diverse than ever before so there is a need for managers, no matter what their age, to know how to deal with their staff.

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