Seniority no longer reigns supreme in today’s mobile food industry. In fact, it’s not uncommon for food truck owners to manage older employees. Leading is hard enough when you have experience on your side.
It can be disheartening to see that your age is undermining your reputation in the workplace, but you need to be determined not to let it dictate your performance.
Leading Older Employees In Your Food Truck Business
Here are some ways to make sure your age doesn’t betray you in your food truck.
Start strong. Don’t qualify your statements or ideas. Speak with conviction and assume that your ideas are good ones. Show confidence, show your worth, and remember, you are the boss.
Balance your poise with an open mind. Put your proposals out there and then solicit opinions and ideas. Give your employees a voice. Don’t manage them; enable them. Be there to remove obstacles and learn from them. You’re there as a coworker; not just a boss. If they respect you and what you stand for, there will be no issues working with them.
Ask For Feedback
Make sure people know you care about continuous improvement. They’ll be more likely to give you useful feedback about your performance as a leader. You’re the boss, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others. They likely have a lifetime of experience, and you can leverage that to improve your business.
Food truck owners shouldn’t underestimate the importance of communicating and giving feedback in the way each team member responds to best. It’s also important to make sure you encourage this practice of open, honest communication across your team.
If there is a significant age gap between manager and employee, it’s natural that some competition may arise. A young food truck owner may feel like they have to outdo their older employees to prove their competence, but this can breed insubordination and resentment. You need to go out of your way to make sure the staff member knows that you’re on their team [and] you’re personally invested in their success.
Older and more experienced team members bringing their gifts to the truck should never be discouraged. After all, you likely hired them because of their experience. At the same time, it’s important to remain the leader in the situation by thanking them for their quality input and then clearly giving your decision and next step. Acknowledge their input without acquiescing your role as the owner.
Know What Motivates Them
Regardless of age, skill level or job position, everyone is motivated by different things. Sure, managing someone older and more experienced can be intimidating, but if you find out what motivates them and what they want, then it doesn’t matter. They’ll respect you, and you can inspire them.
The Bottom Line
Remember that you may be young, but if you own a food truck, it is likely because you have devoted your life thus far to refining your special gift. Never allow others’ perceptions of age dilute the value of the long hours you have devoted to your gift of cooking, your skill of running a food truck, and your leadership.