How One Lord & Taylor Exec Overcame the Unique Obstacle She Faced When She First Started Her Career

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By Rachel Gillett

Age shouldn't matter, at least not when it comes to how you manage people.

But it can feel uncomfortable to be the boss of people much older than you.

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Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay, recently told the New York Times' Adam Bryant that her first management experience came when she was 22 and right out of college. She was managing associates twice her age."It was an interesting challenge — showing them respect but also coaching them to do more," she said.

At the time Rodbell was an assistant buyer at New York City department store Abraham & Straus. She managed a small team of selling associates at the flagship store in Brooklyn, New York, she told Business Insider.

"The challenge wasn't about age so much as learning how to lead and inspire," she said. "It was new for me and I had to find my way and learn what worked for me."

She quickly realized that regardless of whether you manage people your age, younger, or older, the principle is the same: "Treat people with respect and dignity, and be true to who you are. Whatever I asked them to do I was willing to do myself."

With a strong vision of what salesmanship qualities she needed from her people and high standards for visual displays and housekeeping, Rodbell said it took a few weeks to get aligned with her team. But her approach to management helped smooth the transition.

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