How to deal with allergic-to-change team members

Conflicts between different generations are everywhere. New generations have ambition and want things to change, and the old ones want to keep things safe and stable. It happens in politics, families and, of course, creativity too.


The problem with old-school team members is not only they can stop their brand/agency from innovating, but, when they hold positions of power, they also scare young talent away. These people are allergic to anything that means changing the way you work or the kind of ideas you produce. If you have one of the dangerous types, these old-school guys can leave your team with boring and irrelevant team members.

You are probably thinking: so what should we do? Fire Andrew? (Let's say your old-school colleague is called Andrew). We believe Andrew can be useful in your company, so here are other strategies you might want to try.

Make him/her part of the change
A lot has to do with fear of turning irrelevant. It's normal. Old generations are used to specific processes and ways of thinking, and they feel unsafe outside of that zone. If you start bringing innovation into the company and they don't know the plan, they'll freak out! You would also react that way. Make sure they feel relevant in the process. Include them in meetings and setting up strategies. Hear their opinion and count with their years of experience (which are a great asset). This is especially recommended if they are creative directors or they are up in the hierarchy.

Put value on his/her role
During this process, s/he will feel threated and insecure. Make sure s/he feels appreciated. As said before, an experienced person is a crucial asset for a company. The best teams are a combination between of generations that can understand each other.

Help him/her trust their team
It's difficult to support an idea when you don't understand it. That's probably why an old-school creative director will have a tough time with edgy concepts. For these cases, the CD needs to learn to trust their team (even if they are younger than him/her).

If just one member of the team is stopping the whole company from innovating, that means your structure is too centralised. You can't depend so much on only one person. It's not about Andrew. It's just not efficient, so you might need to re-visit your whole structure, not only Andrew's role.

Align your goals
If everything else fails, you should clear the company's goal with him/her. Your colleague must understand the company needs to stay relevant, and that means always evolve and know how to deal with modern times. It's essential s/he understands that and shares the same goal.

We understand this can be a severe problem. Always remember to use all your empathy and emotional intelligence to deal with it. And never make it a personal issue.

* Disclaimer: We don't believe old-school people are bad at all. We just mean the type of member that won't ever want to try any new methods/ideas just because they are new.