You receive the great news that you have bagged the interview. As you head to the office on the big day, you have a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye – you know you’re ready and prepared. You are welcomed by who could become your future colleagues, one of which is a much younger employee working for Human Resources. Or that’s what you thought… They are, in fact, your prospective boss. Immediately you are filled with all sorts of uncomfortable emotions: How could you work for a boss who looks like they just stepped out of university?
These emotions are valid. Whether you are entering a new company or having your manager replaced at your current job, many people would see it as somewhat of a slap in the face to end up having to work for someone who is significantly younger than you. But the truth is, this is not such a rare occurrence these days and it shouldn’t be frowned upon. An age-related hierarchy simply doesn’t exist and reporting to someone younger shouldn’t have to make you dread going to work. There are ways to shift your mindset and make this strange phenomenon more comfortable for both you and your boss.
Age is but a number
It is engraved in so many of us that being older comes with privileges, including when it comes to getting placed in higher positions at a company. But while that might have been the case in earlier years, age is no longer a crucial part of the criteria when deciding the rankings at work. Nowadays, the younger generation pride themselves for being educated and knowing the latest industry trends, which is why they tend to do so well career-wise. They might have more experience or the desired skills to take on the role as your boss. So, don’t let their age fool you into thinking that they aren’t suited for the role. Give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them to prove themselves.
Tying in with our previous point – age shouldn’t be a measuring stick for how much respect to show someone. Resist the urge to roll your eyes, sigh out loud or give judgemental facial expressions when you don’t agree with something that is said by
your younger boss. Watch your words and your body language, too. Being condescending towards your superiors is never a good idea, even if you’re the older one. Instead, accept the fact that they have been placed in that position for a reason – they most likely have what it takes to make a success of it. Don’t stand in their way by trying to one-up them in conversations. Be respectful, just as you would if they were older.
Find neutral ground
Having a younger boss may mean that you’ll have to adapt to doing things their way. This is where it’s important for you to practise being open-minded. Perhaps they want to let go of old-fashioned techniques of getting things done – methods that you’ve found comfort in over the years. Don’t disregard their management style because it’s unfamiliar. Instead, communicate clearly (and respectfully) about their styles and expectations so that you know what is expected of you. Don’t be afraid to ask your younger boss questions if you’re unsure, either. It will build trust and a positive relationship. And who knows, perhaps their way of doing things is the better way, after all.
How to grow in your career
Has having a younger boss opened your eyes to the fact that age and time spent working at a company is not all that matters when it comes to the hierarchy at work? Perhaps it is time to take the necessary steps that’s needed for you to stand out above the rest of your colleagues. We’ve listed a few tips that you could follow to ensure that you stay relevant in your career.
- Build your network: Engage with people who work in the same or similar industry that you’re in. This way you have connections to reach out to for advice, and it also opens up various career opportunities.
- Learn some more: You are never too old to enrol in a new course or learn something new. Whether you opt to study online, on campus or make use of more accessible resources such as podcasts, books and websites, growing the list of skills and knowledge on your CV is always a good idea if you want to reach new heights.
- Get familiar with the new trends: Don’t know a thing about the latest technology or programs that are frequently used in your career field? Now is the time to sharpen your skill set – ask questions or read up on the latest trends in your industry. This way you won’t fall behind when the time comes when your company makes the shift to these new trends, too.
Words by Bianca Muller
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk: On Pexels