Remember When your Boss was Older than You?

Younger Boss Image

The workplace is truly a new place. In this place the boss isn’t always the guy with the gray hair anymore.

As baby boomers age and younger, technology savvy workers move up the chain of command, generations are beginning to experience a very different workplace dynamic.

Now, those leading the company teams may be much younger than the workers they are asked to lead. This, of course, can lead to challenges and conflict.

Respect is the ingredient needed most to move the organization ahead regardless of the ages of the leaders and employees.

The biggest mistake the older worker can make is to think that what they did in the past will matter to the younger boss. When in fact, the younger boss is only interested in what you bring to the table now.

The younger bosses often fail to acknowledge the “dues” paid, and frequently assume the older worker is technologically deficient and too old to provide any real benefit to the team.

The key for both generations is to remember that all age groups are trying to get to the same end result, but just go about it in different ways.

Gravett and Robin Throckmorton, authors of Bridging the Generation Gap: How to Get Radio Babies, Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers to Work Together and Achieve More, offer suggestions for working with a younger boss.

  • Even if you don’t agree, listen. Don’t discount suggestions immediately with statements such as, “We’ve done that before, it didn’t work.”
  • Become very comfortable using email and voice mail. Younger bosses often are uncomfortable with hands on supervision. They were brought up in the information age and expect information to be transmitted via email.
  • Don’t call your boss after hours. Younger bosses are serious about having private time away from work. They often won’t stay late or come in early-unless it is their idea.
  • Understand the culture. Take time to understand what is important to your boss’s generation. What is important? What is meaningful? It will go a long way in helping to build your understanding.
  • Use your energy in the right way. Instead of spending time upset with the boss, try understanding where s/he may be coming from. Quite often a new perspective from a younger person may be exactly what the organization needs.

Source: “Some Tips for Thriving with a Younger Boss”,
by Anita Bruzzese, The Seattle Times, February 25, 2007