How To Work With A Boss Who Is Younger Than You

How To Work With A Boss Who Is Younger Than You

Imagine this scenario: You just got a job offer and have been asked to resume. Prior to this, you have never seen your employer so you have no idea to whom you are supposed to report. You show up to work with big hopes on your first day, eager to be introduced to your boss and the rest of the team. You meet your colleagues and everyone is welcoming and nice but your boss… is just old enough to be your first child! Many questions run through your mind but the foremost is, ‘How am I supposed to work with such a younger boss?’


Funny scenario, but it is more common than you think. Many people have shown up to work on their first day expecting to see a greying, old employer who is fit for retirement. Well, things have changed. With the influx of millennials and even Gen Zs into the business world, there is a high probability that your present or next employer could be a few years younger than you. A lot of startups are even spearheaded by youths in their twenties. But is the issue worth worrying about? Chances are that you cannot do much about the situation. Quitting a job or refusing a good job offer because of your employer’s age is such a flimsy reason.

However, due to upbringing and societal norms or customs and traditions, there could be a hierarchy based on age. Young ones might be expected to be below older people and to show them respect. In a country like Korea, a younger person speaks formally to someone higher in age and may even bow to show respect. Other countries or societies also have visible acts that denote respect. A good, neutral workplace though, is a place of equal opportunities and that said, respect is given high regard but age is not seen as a free ticket to get preferential treatment or insist on practicing your culture nor is it a barrier to getting what one actually deserves. This means that if you have a younger boss and you are determined to make your work experience an excellent one, you have to work on any reservations you have and that is why this article is timely.


We have curated a few tips to help you establish a good work relationship with a younger boss.

  • Show Respect: No surprise that this tip comes first. Respect goes a long way in building a healthy work relationship. Respect, they say, is reciprocal. Treat your boss and all your colleagues in extension with respect. Imagine yourself in his or her shoes, owning a company or managing one at that age. Acknowledge that your employer has worked hard to get to where they are, garnering experience and certifications does not come easy. Address him or her by proper titles – Sir/Ma, Dr., Chief, Mr./Miss/Miss, etc. except the company culture makes room for a first name basis. Using formal, professional titles to address your younger employer pushes the issue of age difference aside.
  • Know Your Place: You are your boss’s employee, same as every other colleague. As we have mentioned before, you are all workmates and while there might be some hierarchy and offices to report to like in the case of your boss, there is no preferential treatment. Do not expect your boss to reduce your workload, increase your pay, prostrate while greeting you or call you aunty, uncle, mum, or dad. Your age has not earned you anything as it has not reduced your employer’s right to assign tasks to you. If you have any questions, complaints, or suggestions, go through the right channel. Do not interrupt your boss or force your opinions by trying to pass them off as ‘wisdom of the old’. Do not get annoyed when your suggestion is not taken every time because your older age does not mean that you are always right. Resist the urge to make unsolicited decisions for your boss because you think he or she is too young to do it. 
  • Be Professional at all Times: We know your boss is old enough to be your son, but do not ask him when he is going to get married the way you ask your son or tell him his hair is too long. And it is very unprofessional to tell your female employer that her skirt is short or to bring her a flask of home-cooked food because you think she is too thin. Maintain only a professional relationship. Do not pry into private details or try to act as an older family member to your boss. 
  • Use and Gain Experience and Skills: If you have been in the industry where you work for a long time, put your skills and the experience you have gathered over the years to good use instead of overthinking the age difference between you and your boss. Your experience can mean that you have expert advice and tips to give. That way, your boss will look up to you. If you are from an earlier generation, chances are that a lot of changes will have been made. Do not be rigid, adamant, or ashamed to learn something new because a young person is doing the teaching. Learn new skills, even something as basic as using the computer or writing and sending emails. Your boss will appreciate your efforts and it will be clear to everyone that age is just a number.


Final Thoughts

Honestly, it can be a little unsettling or shocking to answer someone younger than you at your workplace. You might feel a little bit jealous that you were not able to achieve what they have at their age. But remembering that your employer deserves their position should put the important things into focus and help you realize that you are not in competition with them nor are you useless because you are older. The four tips mentioned in this article will help you build a healthy work relationship with your boss regardless of their age.

Career Advice

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