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Tips for working with a younger boss

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Nearly half (43%) of U.S. workers work for someone younger than they are, according to a recent Career Builders survey.

Is it a problem to work for someone younger than you?

Only if you happen to be young, according to the survey. Among 25- to 34-year-old workers, 16% said they found it difficult to take direction from a younger boss; 13% of workers age 35 to 44 and 7% of age 45 to 54 workers find it difficult.

Those who reported problems said, “They act like they know more than I do, but they don’t” and “They play favorites with younger workers.”

What’s the best way to get along with younger, wiser superiors?

1. Take the initiative and have a conversation with the boss about her favored mode of communication, suggests Robin Throckmorton, co-author of Bridging the Generation Gap.

2. Adapt to, rather than fight or try to change, a younger boss’s communication style. That may mean learning new things, says Claire Raines, co-author of Generations at Work.

3. Don’t expect your boss to adopt your habits. Her communication style, for example, of frequent e-mails and instant messaging may be totally different from your familiar mode of dropping by and chatting face-to-face. It won’t be easy, but you’ll need to accelerate learning in order to adapt.

4. Do not assume that age wins respect from a younger supervisor. “You have to earn that respect,” says Throckmorton.

5. Forget “parenting” a young boss. Older workers have a tendency to hover, Throckmorton says.

Bonus tip: Acknowledge their expertise, and view the situation as a learning opportunity. After all, everyone needs to keep learning in order to thrive at work. Take advantage of retraining opportunities and keep your skills up-to-date.

— Adapted from “How To Deal With A Younger Boss,” Susan Adams, Forbes.

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