The challenge of a younger boss
Even though these situations are more ordinary than a couple of years ago it is often not easy for those involved to cope with it. Not only the numerous articles you can find in the Internet about this subject are giving an indication for this: 7 Tips for Working for a Younger Boss, How to cope with having a younger boss: 10 Steps, 5 Ways to Deal With a Younger Boss. But, what is the problem we are facing when the person, who is placed higher in the hierarchy, is younger then we are?
One reason could be that we usually feel very comfortable in our little comfort zones. We prefer to maintain the status quo instead of changing something. A new boss – especially when she or he is younger – often has lots of new ideas, wants to change established and proven processes or wants to introduce innovative technologies and new ways of collaboration. And of course the new team leader is often also driven by the idea that she or he needs to differentiate from the previous boss. This behavior (or even only the idea that it could be like this) triggers fear and uncertainty of the employees.
Perhaps it is also often difficult for more senior employees to accept, that somebody with less experience is in the more powerful position. Even worse is the situation, when the employee himself has hoped to get the leading position. In these situations it is important to focus on the aspect, that the new boss perhaps has less experience but that there is a good reason, why he or she got the job. Presumably his or her performance and / or knowledge is very good and bringing together the experience of the older team members and the very good performance / knowledge of the new boss gives the chance of creating synergies and thus great success.
Often it’s only prejudices that put obstacles in the way – and once boss and employees become familiar the relationship between the generations is going very well. When we go into a relationship with prejudices, we will find this confirmed in the sense of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” because we look (consciously or unconsciously) after this confirmation. So we should try to be objective and do not judge a book by his cover.
The situation of team members of different generations and thus also younger bosses and older employees is today already very common in the companies. Even people above the age of retirement are part of the teams sometimes. To avoid conflicts between the generations mutual respect is very important. We should give ourselves more time to deal with the new situation and not to give up when the first problem occurs or we see one of our prejudges confirmed. When starting with a new job little mistakes are normal, for all of us – younger and older ones.