Can young people effectively manage older workers?

Friday, November 8th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

Most young people are used to the idea of working under those who are older than they are and, eventually, leading those who are younger. That has been the norm for most of their lives, from school to first jobs. But for some younger workers, that relationship has been reversed.

Nowadays, it is increasingly likely that project managers in their 20s or 30s will be expected to oversee a team of people who are decades older. Most of these younger managers will likely tell themselves that the way to succeed is to just ignore the age difference. Unfortunately, that simple solution doesn't always work.

A recent article in Business insider explains how problems can arise on either side of the age divide. Sometimes, it is the older worker who feels uncomfortable working for a younger manager.

The article cited the example of Jon Gray, an employee of a publicly traded online vacation rental marketplace. When he was only 24, a business analyst in his 30s was hired to work under Gray. It did not take long before that analyst expressed mixed feelings about the position.

"I told him that I understood where he was coming from, and I wanted him to trust me and give it a try," Gray told Business Insider. "His worry was that young people would be inconsistent. We ended up having a good working relationship because over time he was able to see that I had the ability to do my job, hear my consistent guidance, and I was even able to teach him a few things."

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