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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:00 am

Having younger boss not big deal, survey says

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

The age and seniority of peers doesn't have to be a challenge for young adults entrusted with leading.

Research released last month by Office Team said many professionals don't have a problem reporting to a younger boss. Eighty-two percent of professionals said they would be comfortable in that situation, and 91 percent of respondents said they wouldn't mind supervising employees who are older. 

Workers 55 and older indicated the most comfort with having a younger boss.

Respondents identified differing work ethics or values and leadership or learning styles as the biggest challenges in having a younger boss. Using technology in different ways was cited by about 25 percent as the top struggle when managing someone older, according to a news release.

“In today's multi-generational workplace, it's not uncommon for employees to report to a younger supervisor. Leaders are chosen based on their performance and management ability, not the year they were born,” Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. “While our research shows many professionals are embracing collaboration across age groups, preconceptions can hinder progress. Efforts need to be made to get past stereotypes and build connections.”

Britton also noted that workers can share knowledge and pick up new skills through mentoring or “reverse mentoring.”

Senior managers who place younger people in leadership can help reduce potential for age-related discord, I think, by publicly expressing confidence in their abilities and decision-making. That includes making sure they don't allow workers who are struggling with a younger leader's authority to sidestep  protocol or the chain of command – even when open-door policies are prevalent.

The Office Team survey on managing with generation gaps was conducted by independent research firms and includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers age 18 or older and employed in office environments.

OfficeTeam is part of the Robert Half company, a staffing service with 300 locations worldwide that specializes in temporary placement of skilled office and administrative support professionals.

Lessons from Fido

Man's best friend can provide insight into leadership.

This may not be news for dog lovers, but Krissi and Dan Barr devote a book – “The Fido Factor: How to Get a Leg Up at Work” – to making the case. Dogs, they say, “instinctively know what personal qualities they need to develop in order to be their best. And they're natural leaders at exhibiting the traits needed to be leader of the pack.”

“The Fido Factor,” released in September, is based on four traits: faithful, inspirational, determined and observant.

“Faithful leaders earn the trust of their team and their customers by doing the right things and living up to their word,” the Barrs say in their book.

“Inspirational leaders move people to do the meaningful and the extraordinary. Determined leaders combine perseverance with a dose of fearlessness to keep moving toward goals. And observant leaders are committed to taking in as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions.”

Those crucial traits that dogs often exhibit can work for leaders. Much of the success relies on relationship building, the authors said. That includes one-on-one conversations where the leader is listening, not multitasking, and showing genuine concern and empathy.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at