Greenhouse Canada

The challenges of dealing with a younger boss

March 10, 2010  By Amanda Ryder

March 10, 2010 – As generations continue to mix in the workplace, many
older workers are reporting to younger bosses and this can sometimes
result in conflict.

As generations continue to mix in the workplace, many older workers are
reporting to younger bosses. A new CareerBuilder survey finds that 43
percent of workers ages 35 and older said they currently work for
someone younger than them. Breaking down age groups, more than half (53
percent) of workers ages 45 and up said they have a boss younger than
them, followed by 69 percent of workers ages 55 and up. This survey was
conducted from November 5 and November 23, 2009, among more than 5,200

Occasionally, the younger boss, older worker situation
can create challenges. Sixteen percent of workers ages 25-34 said they
find it difficult to take direction from a boss younger than them,
while 13 percent of workers ages 35-44 said the same. Only 7 percent of
workers ages 45-54 and 5 percent of workers ages 55 and up indicated
they had difficulty taking direction from a younger boss.


Workers reported that there are a variety of reasons why working for someone younger than them can be a challenge, including:

  • They act like they know more than me when they don’t
  • They act like they’re entitled and didn’t earn their position
  • They micromanage
  • They play favorites with younger workers
  • They don’t give me enough direction

"As companies
emerge from this recession, it is important for employees to work
together and move the business forward, regardless of their age," said
Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.
"With so many different age groups present, challenges can arise.
Younger and older workers both need to recognize the value that each
group brings to the table. By looking past their differences and
focusing on their strengths, workers of any age can mutually benefit
from those around them, creating a more cohesive workplace.", CareerBuilder’s job site for mature workers, offers the
following tips for bridging generational differences at work:

  • Understand others’ point of view: Different
    generations tend to have differing opinions on a variety of topics,
    from management style to pop culture. Put yourself in others’ shoes to
    better understand where they’re coming from.
  • Adapt your communication: Younger workers tend to favor
    communicating frequently using technology, such as e-mail and instant
    messenger. Older workers may prefer more face-to-face contact. Both
    parties should take this and other communication differences into
    consideration when interacting.
  • Keep an open mind: Try not to make assumptions about those
    who are of a different age group than you. All workers have different
    skill sets and strengths, so see what you can learn from others rather
    than making judgments based on their age.

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