Recently, it has come to our attention that young professionals in Asia are worried about managing people much older than them. This trend is unsurprising as many companies now offer fast-track graduate management programmes provides promotion opportunities every two or three years. Today, we look into the causes of such a trend.

A global survey among 5,000 professionals reveals that more than a third of respondents in Singapore (38%) and Hong Kong (37%) manage older subordinates. These figures are much higher as compared to the US (26%) or UK (32%).

One such reason for fast promotions is the declining pool of human capital in Asia. Companies frequently face skill and talent shortages in key functions due to increased job-hopping. The scarcity of talent in the workforce leads to these companies turning to using the allure of fast promotions. As a result, young professionals do not fully experience rigours of the job.

Another contributing reason to this trend is the new work-visa rules by the Singapore government hoping to increase the proportion of local employees in a company. As such, organisations prefer to promote inexperienced and younger locals as compared to hiring more experienced foreigners.

A third reason is that Western performance-based promotions have been replacing traditional Asian seniority-based ones over the past decade. This means that promotions were given based on an individual’s skillset such as, innovation, tech-savviness, speaking multiple languages and collaborating easily with counterparts at non-Asian headquarters.

While many young managers are able to cope with managing older employees, there are some that finds it difficult. Eventually, the core of this problem is that firms do not provide enough managerial training to cope with the difficulties of dealing with older colleagues. Too many employers assume that these skills will just be picked up on the job.

In Asian culture, much respect comes from a person’s age and experience. The maintenance of a harmonious relationship is also seen as a virtue. As such, Asians prefer older managers as compared to a younger ones. In particular, younger Asians do not like to challenge their experienced subordinates because this may lead to loss of pride.

What about you? Do you feel pressured by managing older employees?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *