Make us your home page
Jobs | Communication

Young bosses should reach out to older workers

Thinly veiled contempt oozed from the caller's voice: "I've forgotten more than that missy knows." • The caller, whose voice indicated a person of seasoned-worker age, said he wanted to quit because a younger woman had been promoted to be his boss.

He may have expressed himself more openly than most would do, but he's not the only worker who finds it hard to accept younger managers.

It's not unusual to find workplace veterans who are hurt or angry at being passed over for what they thought was their due.

Others fear that being leapfrogged in the pecking order is a sign they're being put out to pasture.

Gary R. McClain, a psychologist and author who counsels clients on career transitions and self-defeating behavior, has written about the difficulty of accepting "kids your children's age" as your manager.

First, he says, remember that generational discomfort may work both ways. The new boss may be unsure about how to establish rapport with the experienced worker. Act the grown-up and reach out.

Second, don't assume that lack of age or a shorter length of experience means the young boss is unqualified or unprepared. Guard against talking down to him or her.

McClain says that the key to bridging the age gap is to treat each other as colleagues, not as layers in a hierarchy. Yes, bosses are in charge, but there can be a lot of give-and-take in sharing ideas. Listen to each other.

Older workers who dig in their heels and refuse to learn new ways will be left behind. No one, regardless of age, gets ahead by failing to keep up with change.

Young bosses need to guard against generational presumptions, too. Don't assume older workers can't or won't change until they prove it.

Surveys of older workers often show that they want new challenges and that they feel slighted compared to the opportunities given the rising company stars.

Keep communication lines open. And don't prejudge based on age.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.

Young bosses should reach out to older workers 11/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In your 20s and living with mom and dad? In Florida, you're not alone.

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Florida in 2015, Gabrielle Piloto jumped on the highway and headed south to Tampa.

    Gabrielle Piloto, 22, moved home to live with her grandparents in West Tampa after graduating from the University of Florida in 2015. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

  2. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  3. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego


    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  4. Tampa Bay homes values continue to rise along with sales prices

    Real Estate

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported today.

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported Thursday.
[Times file photo]
  5. Busy start has Florida Hospital Center Ice dreaming big


    WESLEY CHAPEL — Opening day brought 600 doctors, administrators and their families from Florida Hospital. Soon after that, the facility hosted its first junior league game and a collegiate showdown. A few weeks later, 200 kids, ages 4 to 9, participated in national Learn to Play Hockey Day.

    Alex Senushkin and his grandson, Styopa Kulshyn, 3, of Lakeland, skate at the Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]