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5 tips for managing older employees


He’s 70 years old, still climbs mountains, and just sold his software company to a larger firm, for which he is now a regular employee. In so doing, he’s joining a fleet of other IT professionals in their late 50s or early 60s who work on mainframe software and system tuning.

This isn’t an unusual occurrence in many large enterprises, which use older workers because of their skillets with older, proprietary technologies and also their ability to understand more about “what goes on under the hood” of the computer than younger workers when it comes to fine tuning systems.

Many of these older workers have run their own companies or have held senior IT management positions—but they don’t want to do that anymore. So they may find themselves working for managers younger than themselves, which can get awkward for both parties.

Here is the sticking point:

Many of these older workers who are reporting to you are going to know more about IT than you do. This can make it awkward for you to assert management authority.

If you’re one of these younger managers, what can you do?

Understand what motivates older employees

For older workers who have been around the block, the primary goal is not usually to strive for promotions or to climb the corporate ladder. Chances are, they have already done that (or as much of it as they want to). Instead, older workers want to enjoy what they are doing and make a contribution. This can be difficult for a younger manager to empathize with since he or she is likely still in the career-building stage —but it is absolutely critical if you are managing older employees, and are depending on them to make important contributions to your team and your projects.

Value their experience

There is still no substitute for work experience. Older IT professionals can look at a system performance issue as if they are looking at an X-ray in a lab and quickly know what to do because they’ve seen the problem before. The same issue might take a younger, less experienced person several days to resolve. Older workers are proud of this experience, and as their manager, you should be, too—because your time to resolution for system issues will be shorter.

SEE: Myth busted: Older workers are just as tech-savvy as younger ones, says new survey

Use older workers as mentors

Although there are older IT workers who prefer to be left alone to focus on technical work, there are also many who are eager to “give back” in the form of training younger staff members to do some of the work they are experts at. As a manager, you should jump at this opportunity, because you can build staff “bench strength.” One way to do this is to assign older technical mentors to younger staff so they can work together as teams.

SEE: You must remember this: Institutional knowledge = business success (ZDNet)

Treat older workers as partners

You are still the manager with ultimate decision making authority, but when you meet with your older staff members on a one-to-one level, you can earn their respect faster if you treat them as partners instead of subordinates. This goes hand in hand with the fact that they likely will know more about projects you are managing than you do—and they will know that they do. However, older workers also come from hierarchical management structures, and will understand and respect the management role that you play.

Don’t feel bashful about your management role

Because many older workers have already been managers, they aren’t likely to question your management authority or to even want your position—unless you get into a technology debate with them in their area of expertise, which you are unlikely to win. Stay away from the technology ego challenges and focus on doing what it takes to manage the project. Your older workers will appreciate it. As one of them who was still managing IT recently told me, “I can’t wait to retire so I can take a regular IT staff job in systems programming, which I’ve always loved. Then when someone asks me about project status, I can point a finger at some other person, and say, ‘Go ask them!'”

Two years ago, the Harvard Business Review reported that workers who were at, or approaching, the age of 65 were the fastest growing segment of the workforce. These individuals are able-bodied, quick witted, and living healthier and longer.

At a time when IT is struggling for skilled people and for individuals who can mentor and nurture young talent, older workers with valuable skillets are too important to ignore, and younger managers need to be in step with this.

Also see:
Millennials at work: Tech is more important than free lunch and ping pong (ZDNet)
Why a multi-generational team is key to business success
Millennials are twice as bored at work as baby boomers, report says
How CXOs can develop a diverse workforce (Tech Pro Research)

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off

Dillard’s debuts new Green Hills store this week – The Tennessean

Attention shoppers: Dillard’s is inviting the public to check out its brand new store at The Mall at Green Hills Thursday, March 30.

The department store will open its doors to the public following a years-long, multi-million dollar effort to enhance the shopping experience at the Nashville mall, which included rebuilding an expanded Dillard’s store with parking directly underneath the store.

The old Dillard’s will be razed to make room for more parking and 100,000 or more square feet of new mall space that will link the existing mall to the new Dillard’s.

The new 180,000-square-foot store is 20,000 square feet larger than Dillard’s existing space, giving the department store room to feature expanded product lines. Brand names new to the store will include Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, Ted Baker, Zac Posen, Free People and more.

Situated on two floors rather than three, the new store will feature ladies’, men’s, juniors’ and children’s apparel.

The women’s department will include fashion jewelry, handbags, watches, accessories, intimate apparel, cosmetics and a new Luxury Sunglass shop. The women’s shoe department will open with more than 15,000 pairs of shoes. Men will find watches, fragrances, accessories, tailored clothing and national brand sportswear and shoes.

The home department will feature bedding, cookware, home décor, china, dinnerware, crystal, kitchen appliances, table linens, bath accessories and a luggage department.

Dillard’s Green Hills expansion comes at a time of turmoil for department store chains across the U.S. Sears, JC Penney and Macy’s are downsizing as customers’ buying habits change drastically with the rise of online shopping.

Just last week, Sears Holdings, which operates both Sears and Kmart stores, said in its annual report that ongoing sales declines “indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The company is working to find ways to mitigate that doubt but it said it can’t be sure it will be able to raise the cash to keep going.

Arkansas-based Dillard’s isn’t immune to the retail industry’s struggles; the company reported profits fell to $169.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $269.4 million the year prior.

But the expansion in Green Hills signals confidence in Nashville shoppers, particularly at the mall known for its lineup of high-end retailers.

Dillard’s will host a ribbon cutting at its new store at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 30. The day of the grand opening, 10 percent of sales will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The first 200 customers at Dillard’s Village Drive (North) entrance on Thursday will receive a mystery gift card valued from $10 up to $500.

In-store events on March 30 include: The SAK Collective presents crochet artist London Kaye from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the handbag department; vintage designer handbag trunk show; meet Matt Silver of Silver Jeans from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the junior denim department; meet beauty blogger Brittany Layne from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the cosmetic department; meet Thierry Muret, executive chef chocolatier at Godiva from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; meet the experts from Southern Living for demonstrations on home settings and entertaining, including an “Easter Made Easy” event from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

The celebration continues through Sunday, April 2 with giveaways, special vendor appearances, makeovers, live music and more.

Reach Lizzy Alfs at lalfs@tennessean.com or 615-726-5948 and on Twitter @lizzyalfs.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off

Costa Mesa-Based Event Planning Firm White Lilac on Partying with the Best




March 28, 2017Comments


Sunny Ravenbach. Photo by Raven Claire.

Meet Sunny Ravenbach, owner of Costa Mesa-based event planning firm White Lilac. She’s a go-to for top fashion houses looking to throw showstoppers and an in-demand sorceress for sophisticated weddings and parties around the globe. You might not know her name, but if you’re a fashion-lover, entertainer, or bride‑to-be, you’ve likely drooled over her opulent events on Instagram, where she has more than 220,000 followers. We asked for a peek behind the hedges and drapings.

Marie Antoinette might have blushed over some of your parties. How would you describe your style?
SR: It’s eclectic and over-the-top and yet it’s restrained. There is still discipline. That’s vital.

Who are some of the notable denizens and brands you’ve worked for?
SR: Rachel Zoe, Anne Fontaine, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Bulgari, to name a few.

Is there a golden child among them?
SR: Hands down, it was the Louis Vuitton event I did on their Beverly Hills rooftop three years ago, for the launch of the fine jewelry collection. It started every trend we’ve seen over the past few years. It has been copied over and over. To a T, actually.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

What were some of these trends?
SR: Hanging crystal chandeliers in tents, hanging greenery, using a mirrored tabletop. Also, the mixing of eclectic vintage dinnerware with new dinnerware and glassware pieces.

How does fashion play into other events you create?
SR: Oftentimes, it comes from the clients themselves. It’s funny, because many times the first outfit the client wears for the consult is what their event ends up resembling. If my client comes in wearing, say, a crisp, clean Valentino look with beiges and whites, their event inevitably ends up with that feel. If they’re wearing a red jacket, red nails, I guarantee they will want color, not an all-white event. My job is to decipher the cues and give them a more streamlined color palette in line with their taste.

Finish this sentence: “You probably don’t want to hire me if … ”
SR: If you come in with 8-inch stilettos, overdone makeup, and a high-maintenance attitude, I’m probably not for you. If you’re rigid, set in your ways, or if you come in with pictures of things that have been done 200 times before, I’m not your person. There has to be a certain level of trust and respect for how I’m interpreting your style.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

I imagine that you occasionally get people who want to micromanage everything. How does that work out?
SR: It always works best with the ones who just say, “You do what you want.” There’s a self-impetus to outdo myself because I’ve been given creative freedom, so those events turn out the best—100 percent of the time.

What’s the most outrageous request you’ve ever received? One planner told me she once got a request to bring in a tiger!
SR: I don’t get those sorts of clients. What I do get are requests for really challenging logistics. Throwing events in new places where resources are unfamiliar to me, that’s what I love. Last year in Colorado, I had to design a 40,000-square-foot event in the middle of nowhere, and I had to figure out how to get water there and electricity. Those are the types of challenges I really enjoy.

If we were filming a White Lilac TV episode, which experience would be
the most exciting to watch unfold?
SR: The prime minister of Vietnam called me 3½ weeks before his son’s wedding. We ended up having seven days to get everything together for a gathering of 800—including ordering flowers and clearing customs. I flew out with almost 30 people on my crew. We sent 168 pallets to Vietnam. Then we had to look for a warehouse to receive all the goods, local people to work with, and everything else. It was the most fun of my life. If I just pumped out pink weddings at St. Regis every time, I’d probably stab myself in the eyes.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

You’ve just started selling gorgeous party goods on your site. What inspired this?
SR: My events can give people sticker shock. I don’t want to be this inaccessible brand. So this is an easy way for people to get the look without having to hire me. Often, people don’t understand that two-thirds of the cost of an event is the labor. If someone doesn’t want to spend $20,000 to throw a kid’s first birthday party, it’s an easy way to get the look for $300 to $500. And, by the way, I wouldn’t spend that on a first birthday, even though I plan them!

If someone wants to White Lilac-ize their event, what are your entertaining essentials?
SR: Using different sorts of tables, from mirrored tables to mercury tables to acrylics. China is important. It’s something people notice: glassware, chargers, plates. I love to mix and match. And most important, don’t
ever go for an obvious theme or go too literal with anything. Play.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off

Costa Mesa-Based Event Planning Firm White Lilac on Partying with the Best




March 28, 2017Comments


Sunny Ravenbach. Photo by Raven Claire.

Meet Sunny Ravenbach, owner of Costa Mesa-based event planning firm White Lilac. She’s a go-to for top fashion houses looking to throw showstoppers and an in-demand sorceress for sophisticated weddings and parties around the globe. You might not know her name, but if you’re a fashion-lover, entertainer, or bride‑to-be, you’ve likely drooled over her opulent events on Instagram, where she has more than 220,000 followers. We asked for a peek behind the hedges and drapings.

Marie Antoinette might have blushed over some of your parties. How would you describe your style?
SR: It’s eclectic and over-the-top and yet it’s restrained. There is still discipline. That’s vital.

Who are some of the notable denizens and brands you’ve worked for?
SR: Rachel Zoe, Anne Fontaine, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Bulgari, to name a few.

Is there a golden child among them?
SR: Hands down, it was the Louis Vuitton event I did on their Beverly Hills rooftop three years ago, for the launch of the fine jewelry collection. It started every trend we’ve seen over the past few years. It has been copied over and over. To a T, actually.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

What were some of these trends?
SR: Hanging crystal chandeliers in tents, hanging greenery, using a mirrored tabletop. Also, the mixing of eclectic vintage dinnerware with new dinnerware and glassware pieces.

How does fashion play into other events you create?
SR: Oftentimes, it comes from the clients themselves. It’s funny, because many times the first outfit the client wears for the consult is what their event ends up resembling. If my client comes in wearing, say, a crisp, clean Valentino look with beiges and whites, their event inevitably ends up with that feel. If they’re wearing a red jacket, red nails, I guarantee they will want color, not an all-white event. My job is to decipher the cues and give them a more streamlined color palette in line with their taste.

Finish this sentence: “You probably don’t want to hire me if … ”
SR: If you come in with 8-inch stilettos, overdone makeup, and a high-maintenance attitude, I’m probably not for you. If you’re rigid, set in your ways, or if you come in with pictures of things that have been done 200 times before, I’m not your person. There has to be a certain level of trust and respect for how I’m interpreting your style.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

I imagine that you occasionally get people who want to micromanage everything. How does that work out?
SR: It always works best with the ones who just say, “You do what you want.” There’s a self-impetus to outdo myself because I’ve been given creative freedom, so those events turn out the best—100 percent of the time.

What’s the most outrageous request you’ve ever received? One planner told me she once got a request to bring in a tiger!
SR: I don’t get those sorts of clients. What I do get are requests for really challenging logistics. Throwing events in new places where resources are unfamiliar to me, that’s what I love. Last year in Colorado, I had to design a 40,000-square-foot event in the middle of nowhere, and I had to figure out how to get water there and electricity. Those are the types of challenges I really enjoy.

If we were filming a White Lilac TV episode, which experience would be
the most exciting to watch unfold?
SR: The prime minister of Vietnam called me 3½ weeks before his son’s wedding. We ended up having seven days to get everything together for a gathering of 800—including ordering flowers and clearing customs. I flew out with almost 30 people on my crew. We sent 168 pallets to Vietnam. Then we had to look for a warehouse to receive all the goods, local people to work with, and everything else. It was the most fun of my life. If I just pumped out pink weddings at St. Regis every time, I’d probably stab myself in the eyes.


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

You’ve just started selling gorgeous party goods on your site. What inspired this?
SR: My events can give people sticker shock. I don’t want to be this inaccessible brand. So this is an easy way for people to get the look without having to hire me. Often, people don’t understand that two-thirds of the cost of an event is the labor. If someone doesn’t want to spend $20,000 to throw a kid’s first birthday party, it’s an easy way to get the look for $300 to $500. And, by the way, I wouldn’t spend that on a first birthday, even though I plan them!

If someone wants to White Lilac-ize their event, what are your entertaining essentials?
SR: Using different sorts of tables, from mirrored tables to mercury tables to acrylics. China is important. It’s something people notice: glassware, chargers, plates. I love to mix and match. And most important, don’t
ever go for an obvious theme or go too literal with anything. Play.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off