An interesting discussion was held in the classroom recently. A thirty-something participant mentioned that he was in charge of a team of seven well-educated, experienced staff members, all but one of whom was significantly older.
These staff members had been with the organization a fairly long time and some had reservations about the new manager. The scenario described seemed fairly common. The younger manager expressed frustration about the more senior people "coasting" until retirement and resisting doing things a new or different way. Some even disregarded his instructions. So, what is a new manager to do? A couple of suggestions were made:
He can lay down the law as the ranking manager and come across with strong authority. Insist that they do things the way he directs them and make sure there are consequences for not following the rules. Put people on a plan with a time limit. If they fail to comply, terminate the employment of one person to make an example for the others. Start hiring your own staff who will be more loyal to you.
Or...he can humble himself and learn from those who have more experience and history in the organization. Ask questions and learn something from staff members. Show them he is a capable manager while at the same time reaching out for advice and counsel from them. Treat them with respect while still holding them accountable for their work.
So, what's your best bet in the long run? What do you want from your staff? Compliance or loyalty and dedication? The consensus of the class was this: If your staff suspects you hold them in contempt, they will withhold information from you and perhaps even sabotage your efforts. When your group feels that you respect and support them, they'll alert you to land mines and work to make you successful.