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What happens when your boss is younger than you?

Category: Age Initiatives, age inclusive month, WORKPLACE

Age-inclusive working policies are changing the way we collaborate. Most employers now recognize the need for diversity—in race, sexual orientation, religion, or disability status. Employers are required to put policies in place to reduce bias on a whole number of levels. But there’s another underlying prejudice, just as damaging, that can cause friction in the workplace.


How to manage your relationship with your boss

It’s a difficult one. You’re an experienced and confident professional with a good skill set and an open attitude. Your boss, a younger staff member, has been given the reins to the team after fewer years in the workplace. It can be tough. Age discrimination comes in many forms.


Here are our tips for managing intergenerational leadership:

  • Age is a number, not a credential. Statements such as “he’s too old to learn a new computer program” or “she’s too young to lead a team” diminish the value and qualifications of the people involved. Looking out for others may open doors to opportunity for you too, inclusivity is for all - not just for some.
  • Mix it up. When you look at the research, the productivity of all workers improves when  companies use mixed-age work teams. Our advice is to move away from the idea of barriers and think instead about working closer together. You’ll probably all get a lot out of it.
  • Look at it differently. Take away the age, or the name, or the ethnicity of any employee or jobseeker and look at just their abilities, skills, experience and knowledge. Does their age really matter? Honestly? Being open will increase the pool of talent in an organisation. That’s known to have a big impact on how successful the team or company you work in is.


How to work in mixed-age teams

Differences in the experiences, expectations, styles and perspectives of people of different ages can be a source of conflict at work. But they can also become a real strength. For the person in charge the challenges might be assertiveness when talking to someone ten years older. Or finding ways to use personal relationships to share knowledge between team members with different levels of knowledge. Employees may feel the person hasn’t “done the time” to get to where they are. Remember though that everyone involved has a barrier to climb.

The secret to making this situation work is respecting each other and showing flexibility around new ideas. Age is just a number, and no one can stop you (no matter how old you are)  from working or growing if you accept and adapt changes with positivity and professionalism. .

There’s lots more information and advice about finding a great job, with a great organisation on our website. Search now for jobs with companies focused on diversity and inclusion.



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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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