Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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Who Really Has a Problem Working for a Younger Boss-(Hint, It’s Not Who You Think!)

Wrestling with 4 year old 1 creditA new CareerBuilder survey finds more than four-in-ten workers over the age of 35 currently work for a younger boss. From time to time, the younger boss, older worker situation can create challenges. However, the group that really seems to find this relationship most challenging are workers between ages 25-34. Sixteen percent said they find it difficult to take direction from a boss younger than them, while 13 percent of workers ages 35-44 said the same. Only 7 percent of workers ages 45-54 and 5 percent of workers ages 55 and up indicate they have difficulty taking direction from a younger boss.

So why are companies so focused on helping the Baby Boomers improve their relationships with their younger bosses? Shouldn’t they be offering this type of assistance to the generations that report being most challenged by this? And why are people finding these relationships so challenging?

The survey results include the top reasons why working for someone younger can be a challenge, including:

  • They act like they know more than me when they don’t.
  • They act like they’re entitled and didn’t earn their position.
  • They micromanage.
  • They play favorites with younger workers.
  • They don’t give me enough direction.

We can reduce the overall dissatisfaction felt by workers by providing training and coaching to all new managers, regardless of age. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s (and in many cases today’s) first line level of management. We older workers may have been tossed into management with little more than a prayer, but that doesn’t mean everyone else should also be thrown off a cliff.


Author of the forthcoming book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding all Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011)


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