Understanding the generational challenges of supervisors younger than their employees

Being supervised by a younger employee can raise difficult feelings, but behavior is everything in the workplace, so monitor it. Wait until an issue exhibits itself before you step in.

Many older workers, “bothered” by an age difference at first, readily cope in healthy ways and see the upside.

Can your employees cooperate and demonstrate mutual respect? If so, view the age difference as a nonissue. For many older workers, a younger supervisor can be an exciting opportunity to learn about different ways of doing things, perhaps better, and more about technology, experiencing the wonders of more efficiency.

Some older workers may see a young supervisor as a representation of what they did not accomplish, but most will adapt successfully and this awareness may never turn to conflict. If conflict occurs, address it. If it does not subside, then involve the EAP.

Problems you may see could include parenting-like behaviors on the part of the older worker, insubordination, disrespectful tone, arguing, or other forms of disrespect, even bullying.

Source: UTEAP FrontLine Supervisor (September 2015)

Categories: Learning, Managers

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