Dealing with baby bosses

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

There's nothing new about older and younger workers on the job side-by-side, and there have long been bosses who are younger than their employees. But the traditional hierarchy—where people acquired more power as they got older—has gotten a lot fuzzier. Most dramatic, of course, has been the rise of the "baby boss." In enterprises from Yahoo! to the Boston Red Sox, the reins of power and success are in the hands of managers young enough to be the grandchildren of their subordinates. How does this impact you and the team? Some advice from the pros:

Build a performance culture. If your enterprise is happy to give a top management role to a 24-year-old, then the message is clear: All that matters is what you produce. That can be wearing on grown-ups who have more going on in life than their careers, but it can also be liberating to blow off unnecessary meetings, worry less about "face time" and focus on what you do best.

Use everyone's perspective wisely. An employee's age, of course, does not make his particular outlook and ideas either good or bad. But it does make them different, and smart managers look for ways to turn differences into advantages. If veteran team members know you're headed the wrong way, ask them to show younger workers—and baby bosses—the right direction.

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