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Working for an Older Boss

Tags:  Management, Baby Boomers, Gen Y

Sometimes the problem between the generations has to do more with how the work is done rather than the fact that it gets done.

Everyone – regardless of sex, age, race or whatever – has their own way of doing things. It comes from their life experiences. And just because your boss wants to get from A to Z by going through N while you want to do it by going through G, doesn't mean you can't see eye to eye on the goal.

It's all about communication. Doing something the old school way or the new tech way doesn't really matter, as long as the end result is achieved and everyone is on the same page through the process.

That's why it is up to everyone to take time to communicate. That doesn't mean just mouthing off, it means listening to another point of view and finding where you have commonalities. Want to know more? Follow these Guideposts:

1. Describe your process viewpoint; reassure boss his/her opinion is valued

Tough as it is, the boss is the boss. Whether he is 30 or 60 years old, he runs the show. The best way to win him over is to take the time to make a connection, show you really have his, the department's and the company's best interest at heart.

Describing your point of view is a good place to start. That way he understands where you're coming from. But don't forget he has been in the trenches a lot longer than you, so be willing to listen to what he has to say and consider incorporating his ideas into your thinking process.

2. Offer alternatives; gain agreement on a plan to meet both objectives

The benefit of having more than one person in on a project is that you can gain insight into differing points of view and new ideas about the same old thing. However, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page before proceeding.

If you feel you can offer a workable alternative, by all means present your idea. However, be sure to do it in a way that is respectful and intended to further the project along. Once your boss sees that you know what you're talking about, the two of you can work out a plan that keeps everybody happy and the project on track.

3. Confirm your understanding and show appreciation

An important part of teamwork is developing trust. You can do that through open communication. That means taking the time to build relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

Once you have laid out your idea and listened to your boss's input, make sure he knows that you get it. And that you are willing to be flexible to make the relationship work. Then show your appreciation for his willingness to give you a shot, and know that he'll show his appreciation for your great performance.

Working for an older boss doesn't mean you will automatically butt heads. But it does mean you need to learn the best way to work together as a team.


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