There are always going to be challenges associated with generational differences in the workplace, but some people find dealing with a younger boss to be especially difficult. If you're older than your boss, here are some things you should keep in mind.
Show some respect: When your boss is younger than you, remember to show respect, says Robin Throckmorton, president of Strategic HR Inc. "While he or she may be younger, they wouldn't be in this role if someone didn't feel they had a lot to offer the role, even if you disagree." Throckmorton says if you show respect for your boss, you'll get it in return.
Be flexible and cooperative: Keeping an open mind and staying flexible about how things get done at the office are important when there's an age difference between you and your boss, says Paul Bernard of Paul Bernard and Associates. "For example, you may be used to a lot of face-to-face meeting time, but your boss may prefer to handle a lot of his communications via text or instant messenger," he says.
"Don't balk at this — you'll come across as stubborn and old-fashioned. Instead, try to align yourself as best you can with your boss' management style. You might find that there are some real advantages to doing things differently."
Remember age is just a number: An age difference can be a distraction, so try not to focus on it, says Kelly Hadous of Win the Room. "Age doesn't matter as long as your boss provides good leadership and strong guidance and brings passion and motivation into the company and the team."
Communicate: It's important to ensure you're on the same page, and that requires clear communication. "Early on, set a time to speak with your younger boss regarding expectations, style and role clarity," says Scott Span of Tolero Solutions. "Ask their preferred way of communication and delivery of requirements. Boomers and millennials need to continue to dialogue, build trust, to put stereotypes to rest to maximize performance."
Focus on the organization: You and your boss are a team, and you're working to help build your department, division or company. "Keep focused on the vision of the company or division for which you're working, and praise alignment," says business coach Wayne Pernell. "You get more of what you focus on and being focused on a bigger picture can interrupt the internal monologue stemming from generational differences."
Be sensitive: It can be hard to avoid holding forth with the wisdom you've accumulated over the years, but you should try. "Refrain from behaviors that drive younger generations crazy," says Tammy Hughes, CEO of Claire Raines Associates. "Avoid comparing your manager to your son or daughter. Don't act like a know-it-all. Nip cynicism and sarcasm in the bud."