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It’s not your age, it’s your attitude

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Communication,Workplace Communication

What can you do about the younger boss who ignores your experience?

That was the question an admin reader posted recently on our Admin Pro Forum. She writes, “Most of our managers are younger and think they know everything. They tend to listen to the younger, fresh-out-of-college administrators.”

What she heard back from readers:

• Look at yourself first.
Pat, a fiftysomething admin, says, “My bosses are much younger and tend to want to do things in new ways. I realized that I’m not very adaptable. Once I started opening up to the possibility that things might work their way, they became more open to listening to my words of wisdom from experience, and we all have benefited.”

• Negative feelings can bubble up and affect your communication style. Admin Janey points out that if you’re coming across as bossy or condescending, others may believe you don’t value what they have to offer. She asks, “How is your tone coming across? Do you speak to them as children, or as managers and peers?”

• Start building bridges with a younger boss or younger co-workers. The first step: Listen. “Some of the ideas the younger generation has are actually good,” points out another admin with 30 years’ experience. “By listening to my younger co-workers, I have earned their respect, and they often come to me for problem solving.”

• Pretend you’re an objective observer. What would someone else say about the situation? Admin Mark writes that he’s witnessed an older-younger clash twice before, and in both cases, everyone in the office believed “the problem was not with the younger manager, but with the older person not adapting to the newer manager.”

• Understand your personal worth. A sixtysomething admin writes that one of the reasons she was hired was “my maturity and my ability not to get rattled by situations that would upset a young person.” With the right approach and an open attitude, experience is valuable.

• Don’t slip into the role of a mother hen. Pamela, a 65-year-old admin, says, “I learned a long time ago that no boss wants or needs another ‘mother.’”

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