Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / APR. 17, 2014
version 6, draft 6

How to Handle a Younger Boss at Work

There may come a time in your career when you will work for someone younger than you are – sometimes even obviously younger. Try your best to help your young boss to get ahead, especially if you have already climbed the corporate ladder. Be as productive as possible and carry your own weight, but if you see the opportunity to go out of your way, by all means do so.  Of course, there will be challenges on any job and this is no different. Here are several things that you can do to make the working experience with your younger boss more positive for both of you.

Give Respect

People like to be respected, whether they are younger or older. Whether you disagree with the role or not, your boss was hired to the position for a reason and if you don’t show respect, it will hurt you and make you look vindictive and jealous. It may be easy to say that the ‘boss is just a kid’ or ‘years before the boss was born, you had your first job.’ However, don’t go that route. If you show respect, you will receive respect.

Be Flexible and Supportive

It is an ideal workplace when everyone is flexible, supportive and cooperative. Always keep an open mind. Make suggestions when you can. Your younger boss may see things differently due to the age difference in that he/she may not be afraid to take risks. A younger boss may prefer to communicate through email and social media and you prefer to have face-to-face meetings. Adjust to the new way of doing things around the office. Ask for a meeting once in a while, if you are so inclined. Don’t be stubborn and hold on to the old-fashioned way of doing things. This may be the boss’s best style of management. In fact, there may be some real advantages in doing things a different way such as having fewer conflicts in the office.

Be Aware that Age Is Only a Number

The difference in age is only a distraction. Don’t focus on it, especially if your boss shows competence, is a strong leader and brings a lot of passion to the team. Forget about the age. It really doesn’t matter. The real deal here is production, creativity, communication and team work. Go along with your boss’s decisions for the advancement of the team.

Good Communication

It doesn’t matter the age of your boss. Just make sure that you both are on the same page. This will need clarity in communication. In the early stages of your relationship with the younger boss, have a discussion about your expectations and role. Ask the boss how he/she would prefer to communicate. Continue to have an open dialogue until you build trust.

Emphasis on the Team Work

You should find a way to work with your boss. Remember, cultivating team spirit is the best way to get things done. Adjust your style of communication to fit the team instead of expecting everyone including your boss to change in order to accommodate the way you communicate. Find out what your boss requires of you. For example, what if your boss wants you working early or staying late at night? If you have previous obligations, discuss them with your boss so you can both come to an understanding. The company’s vision is more important than a squabble over things that can be resolved.

Sensitivity is Necessary

It can be difficult to avoid listening to a younger boss giving you instructions, especially since you have accumulated years of experience in the field. Try to refrain from driving your younger boss crazy. Don’t compare your younger boss with your children and don’t act as if you know everything. Avoid being cynical and sarcastic.


You could learn a lot from your younger boss who may be more technically inclined than you are. So open yourself up to learning something new. You may need it in the long run. 

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