Seek commonality when working with a younger boss
WITH LISA TRUONG KRACHER
MBA, PRESIDENT OF STAFFING SOLUTIONS OF HAWAII AND SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT HAWAII CHAPTER VOLUNTEER.
Age-related stereotypes are dispelled through comedy in The Intern, a movie about a 70-year-old retiree hired to work with a much younger boss. Through good communication and working toward common goals, the movie’s characters form a strong workplace alliance. Like all good relationships, working with a younger boss involves give and take.
Q: I’ve never worked for someone younger. How can I get them to understand me?
A: The adage, “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” is a good place to start. Don’t dwell on differences, but instead seek commonality. Consider whether you should tailor your communication style or methods to your boss. Many younger workers are thought to prefer text and email communication, but the truth is that there’s no universal communications style related to a person’s age. Preferences vary from person to person.
Q: I’ve mentored younger people before. Should I do that with my boss?
A: Collaborating will probably be more effective when dealing with a supervisor or manager. Seek to avoid stereotypes. Think twice before using a phrase like, “When I was your age.”
Q: Shouldn’t my boss adapt to me?
A: Workplace relationships require people to accommodate each other within certain limits and as necessary to get the work done. Having an attitude of openness, a willingness to learn and adapt, and an outlook prone toward optimism usually helps most situations.