How to Inspire Older Employees as a Young Leader

How to make them committed and accountable to you?

learn more about Komal Nathani

By Komal Nathani


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As they say, "Age is No Bar, but what matters at the end is the level of competence." In entrepreneurship too, this is what all matters. An entrepreneur or a leader can be of any age, but the employees they hire can be older than them.

There is absolutely no dearth of startups with founders of 20s something age. From the list of Forbes 30 under 30 to the young business tycoons that make to the list of world's top billionaires, millennials are hitching the trend to be on top in every genre. But often these young founders in companies face difficulties in managing the workforce, and especially the employees, who are more experienced in work than the promoter/founder. How to make them committed and accountable to you? Or what is the best way to inspire them for work?

Keep Adding Value to the Lives of Employees

When 26-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, founder of global hotel-chain OYO Rooms was asked this question at Entrepreneur 2018 Annual Convention, he said, "If you would keep adding value to the organization and also in their lives, they would always follow you."

Speaking about his experiences at OYO Rooms and the need of experienced and skilled employees in an organization, Agarwal said, "Out of two-three learnings I have had, the first one is, everyone expects and deserve respect. Therefore, regardless of age, speak respectfully with everyone, and second is keeping adding value to the organization in your own way."

Agarwal was just 21 when he started OYO Rooms in 2011. Building and managing team at such a tender age was not at all a cakewalk for him. But with sheer hard work and respect, he climbed the growth ladder and today the company has built its presence overseas.

While sharing his one of the best practices, Agarwal spoke about that OYO has 90-95 per cent of people older than his age. But he says, "The question remains what do they believe I am able to bring something on the table that is unique. Until they believe I am able to believe something unique they will continue to respect."

He adds, "Every Monday the entire Oyo team gathers for a meeting, and I start preparing for it from Sunday afternoon or evening just to make sure that they believe whatever Ritesh is saying is significant in their lives, and for Oyo significantly."

"Earlier in India, the companies used to have a promoter and they used to hire professionals, but the professionals would always say that just because he started this company, he is a promoter; he is not adding value every day in the organization, "says Agarwal.

Years of Experience is an Asset for Company

Another young duo, Avlesh Singh and Ankit Utreja, founders of a Mumbai-based marketing automation platform, WebEngage, says, "For anyone in a position of power, it is essential to be a good listener and pay heed to everyone's opinion equally. An older employee might have years of valuable experience which can be an absolute asset, but ignoring their advice and sticking to your guns would show a lack of oversight."

The India-based marketing automation firm currently serves over 40,000 businesses around the world. With presence in over 35+ countries, the company works with the likes of Flipkart, eBay, GoIbibo, Myntra, MakeMyTrip, Taj Hotels etc. in India as also with companies in the US, Middle East and South East Asia such as Pluralsight, Avaya, Sendgrid, Souq, Vogue, Unilever, amongst others.

36-year-old founder, Avlesh Singh says, "Older employees have had the chance to witness multiple business cycles in succession which grants them clarity of vision and exceptional decision-making abilities in crunch times. These qualities make them great candidates to own up leadership roles themselves, which is another way to empower them in their work and create a source of inspiration for them to achieve greater things continually."

He adds, "As a leader, you have to respect people and their thoughts. By the power of inclusion, a leader can inspire their employees and make them feel valued by the company, which in turn makes their accountability grows exponentially."

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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