In my southern upbringing I was taught to never ask about age or finances. I've since learned this is only half true. It is important to talk about sensitive topics such as age and bring them to light to ensure our workplace environments are healthy and leaders are coached for success.
Without discussing these topics that make us uncomfortable, we may leave underlying issues that hold our managers back and create sub-optimal teams. Without proper coaching of our leaders, we may not be projecting the image we expect, attracting the candidates we want, or retaining the employees we value.
A young leader in our organization may lack confidence because of jokes about their age. A female employee may have concerns when receiving critical feedback that does not align with the feedback offered to her male colleagues. A new employee may be concerned about her coworker’s reception when they see her in a hijab.
In order to attract and keep the best talent, managers need to understand this reality. But first, managers need to understand the value of diversity and their role in creating an inclusive culture.
Leadership is determined by more than age.
Recently Heinz appointed a 29 year old as their CEO. Ensure you calculate your own ability to lead by your strengths and abilities not your age. Identify action items that will keep your age number from holding you back. If you have a team member that is feeling stuck due to their age (young or old), coach them, and help them gain confidence to reach their full potential.
Diversity across workplace ensures we create the strongest teams.
It is important to support diversity in the workplace.This goes beyond race, religion or ethnic origin. Gender and age are also key. Each facet brings strength to the team. Together the work product and solutions are stronger when more perspectives, ideas and experiences are represented.
Value systems create cultures and are cascaded by leaders.
Your words, and more importantly your actions as a leader, demonstrate your personal values and put the values of your organization into action.
The culture that you cascade to your team creates an environment that either promotes nurturing for all—or allows fear and anxiety to create distraction and disruption in the workplace.
From the hiring process when the best candidate is selected, to encouraging all employees toward continuous growth and learning, your team is watching your example.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Have the conversations with your staff, ensure they hire the best candidates, and make them welcome in your environment. Encourage managers to fully embrace the diversity of their team.
Encourage them to appreciate the differences in others, leverage their experience, upbringing and culture. Show them how this makes the team stronger.