Hess Associates

How do you deal with the fact that you suddenly have a boss who is younger than you are? Why did this happen? What should you do?

The cold, hard fact is that the workplace is now a meritocracy – no more Dickensian scenarios as the old remain in authority forever as a matter of reverence. People now get promoted for many reasons – you may even be so good at your job that no one can replace you, so when a new manager is required, they can’t spare you, so there you are, and not really pleased.

You have 2 choices: Fight or Flee – the old standby physiological choices.

Flee is fine if you find a haven – but on the other hand, Fight can work – Fight meaning fighting to see your new boss simply as the new manager and ignoring her/his age.

But how will you get along with a younger boss in the workplace? This is not like a younger hairdresser or barber – this person is your BOSS and is TOO young!!!

One must learn to adapt and thus to succeed, dispensing with jealousy, and seeing only a person, not a younger person.

You have to know that a 2010 CareerBuilder poll of over 5000 workers found that close to 70% of people over 55 work for someone younger. That’s life now.

What should you do?

1. Respect your boss and try to work with her/him as a team, be a great resource, offering your strengths, skills, and company experience to move projects forward and make her/him look good – as you did with your previous boss. Remember that you are not the competition. Ideas come from all ages of people in the end.

2. Figure out his/her communication style and try to deal with text vs email vs instant messaging vs old-fashioned face to face or phone conversations – you can do it!

3. Take advantage of his/her technological savvy and learn lots of fun stuff from him/her – ask for training courses on technology and have fun playing with ipads and iphones.

4. Get to know this boss and try to find a way for them to get to know you – so you won’t see him/her as a baby and she/he won’t see you as a dinosaur.

5. Communicate often – make sure your boss knows what you are working on and your progress, and that you are getting the job done.

6. Serve as a mentor with helpful advice and as a sounding board, as required.

7. Don’t hide in a corner – make sure other bosses in your organization know what your skills and accomplishments are as well.