Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Handling Younger Bosses

IS YOUR BOSS younger than you? If so, you aren't alone. A 2012 survey conducted by CareerBuilder indicated that 34 percent of employees currently work for a younger boss.

So you need some tools to help you deal with that situation and you may find them in Aaron McDaniel's book, The Young Professional's Guide to Managing, Building, Guiding and Motivating Your Team to Achieve Awesome Results. It offers workplace etiquette that will help all generations succeed in working for, and with, each other. 

Here's how he suggests you deal with a younger boss

1. GIVE THEM A CHANCE: Pre-conceived notions aren't effective - they only create a hard hurdle for everyone to get past. Youth + inexperienced doesn't equal ineffectiveness.

2. REMEMBER YOU AREN'T THEIR PARENT/OLDER SIBLING: Don't act like a parent or older sibling to your manager. This will generally cause them to clamp down hard and make it harder for you to do your job. 

3. FEED OFF OF (AND DIRECT) THEIR ENTHUSIASM & CREATIVITY: Young managers can energize experienced employees. Feed off of their enthusiasm and energy and embrace new and creative approaches. You never know, they may help your results and productivity.

4. EARN THEIR TRUST, THEN OFFER YOUR ADVICE, NOT VISA VERSA: Show loyalty and alignment with your young boss' vision and goals before preaching about what is wrong. It is important to share your perspectives and why it would help the team. Odds are, you have had relevant experiences and know pitfalls to avoid that your boss may never have experienced, but make sure you have their trust. Otherwise your feedback will be taken as you telling them what to do. 

5. FOLLOW THEIR LEAD, BUT BE A LEADER YOURSELF: Being a leader isn't about being the boss or telling others what to do. A leader knows his or her strengths and finds ways to best support the team with them. Align your goals with your boss and find the best way to contribute to the team- your experience fills a big gap that your young boss probably doesn't have.

6. USE TECHNOLOGY: Younger generations are digital natives and are used to using all forms of communication from email to texting or otherwise. Find ways to reach them through these (multiple) methods to get the help you need.

7. PUT THEM IN THEIR PLACE, ARTFULLY: Your experience is a great tool to help your boss and there will be times when you need to step out and use your experience as a trump card to avoid mistakes your boss may not be able to recognize. In doing this, it is important to consider egos and the boss/employee roles.

By effectively doing these seven things, you will bring out the best in your younger manager. And, it will lead to more fulfillment and empowerment in your job instead of frustration and resentment. 


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