No, I'm Not the New Intern. I'm the New Boss.
Working for a younger manager can crush your ego--or your career. Here's how to make the relationship work.
(MONEY Magazine) – It's not just possible but likely that sooner or later you'll find yourself answering to a boss who's significantly younger than you. One recent study found that 23% of boomers already have younger managers; for those over 60, the number was 71%.
The blow to your ego won't be easy to deflect. But you can take steps to ensure the situation isn't also a blow to what really matters: your income.
• GIVE 'EM A CHANCE. Grant him or her the benefit of the doubt that the promotion came for a good reason, and resolve to thrive under the new leadership. You'll be better able to maintain your drive and keep from being labeled as resistant to change.
And remember that a young boss is likely to feel as uncomfortable as you, especially if it's his or her first time managing older workers. So show that you're ready to be a team player.
• FIGHT THE STEREOTYPES. In a 2003 survey of HR managers, 53% said older workers don't keep up with technology and 28% said they're less flexible. True or not, those attitudes exist. Workplace psychologist Dory Hollander advises taking a class, volunteering for assignments or offering ideas on improving efficiency to show that you're open to new ways.
• DON'T BE PARENTAL. Younger managers may be sensitive to the idea that they need help or advice. Sure, offer your expertise. But let your boss decide whether to take you up on it.
• BEWARE OF BIAS. Fresh management is one thing, age discrimination something else. Watch for signs that you're being treated differently because of your age. If you believe you've been treated unfairly, first talk to your boss. Then try HR. A lawyer should be a last resort.