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Generational Hiring > Survey Results > Talent Acquisition > Talent Management

Working for a Younger Boss? You’re In Good Company

No, I mean you’re kind of living In Good Company, the 2004 film where Dennis Quaid’s character finds himself working for a much younger boss, played by Topher Grace.  Oh, and also, you actually are in good company…

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder,  43 percent of workers ages 35 and older said they currently work for someone younger than them. (Sorry…no data on how many of these workers’ daughters were also dating their younger bosses.)

That figure increases to 53 percent when looking at workers age 45 and older, and to 69 percent for workers 55 and up. Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey showed that the younger boss/older worker dynamic can be a source of friction in the workplace, with 41 percent of those who work for someone younger saying they had difficulty taking direction from a younger boss.

The reasons it’s so hard to work for someone younger? According to survey participants:

  • 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.

(What do you think about these findings? Are you on either side of a younger boss/older worker relationship?  If so, does that dynamic affect your workplace? Tell us in the comments section below, or keep reading for tips on how to better manage these types of relationships.)

Despite the differences between you and your younger boss or older employee, if you can recognize that you each bring something different and valuable to the table, Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, says that will be the key to getting along and driving the business forward.

“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,” Haefner says in the press release.

PrimeCB.com, 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.

Ever had to answer to someone younger or manage someone older? What advice would you give to others?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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