Amanda Rose: How to work with a young boss or manage an older subordinate


    Young bosses have become more common. It’s a fad now, especially in tech companies, and they are cheaper to hire in many instances. However, it can create issues when they are managing people who are older than them. From the older person’s perspective, the most powerful thing you can do is see yourself as a mentor.

    You can mentor up. Be their confidant, be their wise counsel, and be available for them – privately – to assist. They might not like it at first but just let them know you are available. Go for a coffee, and you could say, “I noticed you were under pressure; I have been there myself, you handle it well, but if you want advice, I am here, and no one needs to know about it”.

    Show that you are not some “old person who doesn’t like change”. Show that you respect that they are the boss and others will follow. If they don’t treat you with respect or make ageist jokes, pull rank. There is still a hierarchy of age. Do it privately but say, “this is unacceptable, grow up”.


    From the younger person’s perspective, they need to go back to the basics of “respect your elders”. It doesn’t mean the older person is your boss, but you need to respect them. Also, have empathy. It’s a powerful tool. Imagine it was you – how would you handle it, how would you feel?

    Remember to also understand that with age comes wisdom. You might be technically savvy or have a gift or skill, but you don’t have years of experience. The older person can be a powerful ally with wisdom and knowledge. If you face pushback from an employee because of your young age, remember it is always based on fear.

    They are fearful of a young person coming and changing things, so you have to take them on the journey. Ask for their advice and include them in decisions. Don’t have an “us versus them” mentality. Don’t reprimand someone older than you publicly – and it’s good practice not to do that at all. Watch what you say and how it could be interpreted. Don’t tell ageist jokes. If you are a true leader, you have empathy and respect for people, so you shouldn’t trip up in this space at all. – With Melanie Burgess

    Amanda Rose is a business consultant, workplace trainer, LinkedIn influencer, and founder of six organizations – and now she is tackling your career questions for SMART Daily every week. Got a question? Send it to


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