Your boss is younger than you. So what?

With three generations of employees all working together, bridging the generation gap is something most of us deal with on a day-to-day basis.  But what happens when one of the younger employees becomes the boss of an older employee?

According to a study by US staffing company Randstad, one-fifth of employed adults in the States are older than their bosses. And that number keeps increasing as more and more older people stay in the workforce even after they hit retirement age.  But only about half of employees say they relate well to older workers. And more than three-quarters of employees say that younger workers don’t seek advice from their older, more experienced co-workers.

The Trump Blog (yes that’s right, Donald Trump has a blog) says that this is just bad business.  “Just like younger workers can bring fresh ideas and new techniques, older workers bring incredible insight and knowledge,” Trump says.

While it’s not uncommon to find tension in younger boss/older worker scenarios, there are several ways for both the boss and his or her employee to work well together.  Wikihow has a number of suggestions, such as:

  • For the employee: learn from your new boss. Treat your young boss like you would any other boss: with complete respect from the word go. Ask questions about new tactics or strategies and watch your boss to learn skills you don’t have.  And take stock of your own skills. Although your boss is younger, you have plenty to offer – experience, maturity and the knowledge of how things will often pan out.
  • For the new boss: learn from your employee. You have a great opportunity to learn from an experienced employee who has seen many different management styles and can provide great feedback and opinions to you.  Use the skills that your employees bring.  While you may know more about the latest and greatest technology, you may learn about networking or sales skills from your older employees.

Are you working for a younger boss, managing an older employee, or know someone who is? Let me know what you think.

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