He watched The Office you watched Cheers—how do you communicate?
It’s happening across the nation. As baby boomers start to retire (the ones who can, anyway), the millennials are closing in. They like to job hop, and it’s hard for companies to get them to stay. This generation spans fifteen years, and many have built a career and are already getting promoted. Now one is your boss. He can’t stop talking about virtual reality and you miss the simplicity of an age before social media. It doesn’t seem like you’re ever on the same page.
But does it really matter if you get along with your younger boss as long as the work gets done? As noted by The Washington Post, the answer is a resounding yes. A study was recently published in the Journal of Organizational Psychology that surveyed 8,000 employees from 61 German companies. The results showed that a higher percentage of younger people managing older employees resulted in a 12% increase in negative emotions. And those negative emotions, in turn, led to less than stellar manager reports in regard to financial and organizational performance.
How are you supposed to take orders from someone who reminds you of your child?
1. Steer Clear of Judgment
No two career paths are identical. This holds true regardless of age. All workers have different experiences and skills that lead them to where they are in life. Even if your boss is younger, try to trust that she gained the position for a good reason. Regardless of whether or not that reason was because of “who she knew” or not, it’s out of your hands. So try to assume the best.
After all, assuming the worst isn’t going to help anyone, even if it turns out to be true. Being younger doesn’t mean your boss is going to be a bad manager. Despite her age and fewer years on the job, she may have a variety of unique skills that make her a great boss.
Of course, it’s also quite possible that you’ll eventually come to find out that she’s wholly unprepared for the position. Even then, avoid complaining. It’s still in your best interest to get along—you may even want to help guide her in the right direction.
2. Become an Advisor
Regardless of whether your new millennial pal is well-suited for his new position, he’s probably not going to know as much about the industry as you do. You’ve been working longer, so you know who the players are and how they operate. You can draw on these past experiences and apply them to current events, imparting knowledge to your manager.
All of these things are incredibly valuable to a young manager. Although his tools may be sharp, he might not know how to use them yet. You can help him avoid first time mistakes by giving him advice and sharing the wisdom of your past experiences. Just be sure to come across as a helpful advisor rather than patronizing. Think of your manager as a co-worker and peer rather than an inexperienced child.
3. Be Open to Communication
The key to any relationship is communication. So make sure to talk! If you play it right, you can create a real connection with your younger boss. Embrace team-building activities and really get to know her. Maybe take her out to lunch once in a while. If she really is out of her element with this position, she’ll want a co-worker she can trust and rely on. And, once you become familiar with her on a personal level, it can really change the dynamic—you start to see her as an actual person rather than “The Millennial.”