If you are surrounded by co-workers who are half your age, it can feel isolating. After all, they have grown up in a different world than you, and they have different priorities. That doesn’t mean that you can’t develop effective work relationships with them. Follow this advice:
• Don’t be part of the problem. Older workers often choose to avoid their younger co-workers. You may be surprised to learn what you have in common with even your youngest co-workers, so engage them the way you would peers your own age.
• Stop judging them. Yes, they may share stories of their partying, crack jokes you dislike or dress in a way that you find unprofessional. Still, don’t look down your nose at them. They earned the job, just like you, so focus on their positive attributes and the good they bring to the team.
• Forget about parenting them. You may want to warn the young lady next to you that her wardrobe choices will hurt her reputation. Or reprimand the young man across the hallway for drinking all night, but don’t. You’ll just look like a fuddy-duddy. Treat them as the adults they are, even if you disagree with their choices.
• Be a mentor. Some tenured employees worry about their job security once “fresh faces” join the team, so they hoard information or refuse to share advice. Have confidence in yourself, and be willing to coach your co-workers and share insight so that they can do a great job. However …
• Don’t tell them how to do their jobs. They may have a different approach to the work than you do, but that doesn’t mean that their approach is wrong. Unless you’re their supervisor—or have been asked by your supervisor to correct them—it’s not your place to put them in their place.