Work relationships are often complex and challenging. Workplace dynamics are often multilayered and intriguing too.
In the current disruptive working environments, older and less tech-savvy workers are often subordinates to younger and more technologically competent superiors. Such working situations can lead to feelings of inferiority and hopelessness as both parties struggle to work harmoniously — the younger boss wanting his or her charges to deliver high-quality work on time, or earlier, and the older subordinates struggling to make sense of the computer systems, let alone produce the desired outcomes.
If this struggle is not addressed competently, both workers can be frustrated and this can lead to unhappy or unexpectedly harsh words being said, and work relations can be hampered or wrecked irreparably.
Navigating such scenarios can be tricky, and feelings of envy and inferiority can be destructive hindrances. But with wisdom, time, discretion and some humour, this envy and/or inferiority can be channelled towards productive and not destructive ends, if these steps are followed:
- Admire your boss for his or her capabilities
While it can be hard to work under a younger boss who may not be as understanding or empathic as your peers, recognise that he or she got to the leadership position on merit and ability. Changing your preception will be the first step towards the re-angling of your work approach.
- Find out what makes your boss tick, and what ticks him off
Younger colleagues, expecially those who are in the Millennial generation or younger, have been exposed to a world where disruptive technologies such as new ways of learning, thinking and even mingling socially, are the norm, not the exception. As such, it is more beneficial for older workers or subordinates to adapt and learn the new ways instead of digging in their heels.
The learning curve may be steep and hard, but it will be worth it.
- Ask if you are unsure
Some younger heads of department or bosses may tend to be dismissive towards subordinates who cannot or find it hard to learn new things. But a colleague who is not afraid to ask about things he or she does not know will soon win friends and colleagues who will rally to help. After all, no organisation can survive in the long term if all its staff are not up to speed on the latest technologies.
The younger workers will also be glad to have chances to have one-on-one sessions to help the older workers.
- Offer to help
Younger bosses, especially those who may have been recruited from outside the company ranks, may or will face opposition from many fronts within the firm. But their more isolated personalities and lifestyles may make it harder for them to acknowledge that they need help.
This is where older workers can step in. With their experience and higher emotional quotient levels, older colleagues can discreetly brief their younger bosses on corporate culture, interpersonal conflicts and other working minefields that the younger superiors may ignore or dismiss altogether. And they will be grateful for such help.
- Be a living personal example
Millennials and younger generations of corporate workers are more tuned to personal examples instead of rote learning modes. So people who show exemplary conduct and personal professionalism will win their trust and respect.
Older and more experienced workers can score their trump cards in these aspects by behaving discreetly, showing respect to all staff, living according to their principles, and being team players. If the older workers can show their support to their younger bosses through thick and thin, this will not be unappreciated and this can lead to happier, more contented and more efficient working arrangements for everyone concerned.
What do you think about these thoughts? I would love to hear more from you about how the older workers relate to their younger bosses.
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