If you work for a younger boss, it can be a challenge. A September 2016 study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that most workers at firms with managers younger than themselves reported more negative emotions, such as anger and fear than those with older managers. The anger more than likely stems from not feeling valued and respected. There could also be some resentment, especially if you applied for the job and didn’t get it.
My friend Robin had this to say about working for a younger boss, “I had no problem with the age, him being younger. But I did have a problem with his attitude about the way his predecessor handled things. He didn’t value the work the team had done under our previous boss and that left me feeling disrespected and that the work I had been doing was not of importance. But I found ways to cope and make it work.”
When your boss is younger than you, age may add an additional challenge. Think of age as immaterial, appreciating the fact that the position was most likely earned by impressive skills and talents.
So how do you deal with a younger boss?
Tips to Work For a Younger Boss
Here are six tips to help you work for a younger boss:
Communication is key. Try to open up the doors of communication with your boss by addressing the issue face-to-face and letting your manager know how you feel. Your tense work relationship might be as simple as a communication mismatch.
Ask how your younger boss wants to communicate. Do they prefer email, text, or instant message? Do they like to have scheduled meetings? It may mean less face time and more technology than you are used to.
My experience is that younger managers tend to prefer texts to emails, phone calls or real-time verbal conversations while older workers are often just the opposite.
Pause and do some soul searching. Learn how to manage your attitude. Is your unhappiness about you or the boss? Could this be an ego issue for you? Were you passed over for the position and have negative feelings about it?
One of the biggest pet peeves younger bosses have is when employees say, “we’ve always done it like this,” or “we don’t need to learn a new way”. Even though learning a new process may be a pain, do your best to have a good attitude when it comes to accomplishing tasks in a new way.
Have Empathy Towards Your Younger Boss
Your boss may feel threatened and a little insecure about managing you. Have respect for your boss. Yes, he or she needs to respect you, but it’s a two-way street. Your boss got the job for a reason, and while he may be the best person for the job, he may feel a little intimidated.
Play to Your Strengths
You have your current job for a reason. It may not be that you are the best with new technology, rather your experience and mentorship capabilities that really shine through. Make your strengths known to your boss so they can utilize you in the best way.
Keep Your Skills Current
As you know, technology is always changing and will continue to change in the workplace as well. When a new technology becomes available, embrace it and learn it as quickly as possible.
This is not the time to be complacent about building your network with people of all ages. After all, your boss may really be a jerk and you may need to find a new job sometime soon.
Employers still hire the old-fashioned way, bringing on people they know — or those who come recommended to them. So keep adding contacts and connections on LinkedIn. Attend industry association gatherings and get involved in committees or boards. Go to alumni get-togethers. Make it a point to have coffee or lunch with someone who could help your career. Volunteer at a nonprofit or at an outing with your employer’s volunteer efforts. You never know whom you might meet.
The key to making any boss and employee relationship work is mutual respect.
You can work for a younger boss and still be successful. Using the above tips will give you a good start.
Do You Need Career Help?
If it doesn’t work out and you need to begin a search for a new job, contact Rachel at YourCareerFind.com and let her help you create a resume that will make you stand out from the crowd.
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