Reporting to a Younger Boss: 5 Tips That Work

  | 4 min read
reporting to a younger boss

The advent of technology has seen growth in companies and roles as well as ease in acquiring skills.  This means that people who take advantage of learning opportunities and quickly upskill increase their chances of landing new and bigger roles. This may bring about dynamics in who gets which role in a company. You might find out that you will be reporting to a boss younger than you. This could happen when you lack the required skills, are new to the industry, or you just made a career switch.

These dynamics might bring about feelings of shock, resentment and anger. Quite frankly, it might a bit embarrassing for you, especially where your boss is not even in your age group. Before doing something that you might regret, here are a few tips of managing the situation.

Don’t Overthink it

reporting to a younger boss - don't overthink it

Most of what you are feeling now has a lot to do with your perception and attitude towards the situation. You just turned 35 and you are pretty sure your boss doesn’t come close to 25 years old. You wonder how the two of you are going to connect or how the working relationship is going to be like. You are even sure your colleagues are as fixated on the age gap as you are and trying so hard not to find themselves in your situation.

Getting worried is normal. The feelings you are experiencing are normal, but you have to rise above it. Dwelling on such negative thoughts will only lead to tension and awkwardness. Trust your career journey. Everyone’s journey is unique and you will not always attain certain levels of achievement at the same time as your peers. Trust your journey and make peace with your situation. You will realize that most of your fears were unfounded.

Let Your Experience Shine

reporting to younger boss- let your experience shine

Different generations work differently. Although your boss is younger than you, you definitely have more experience than they do. It is time to bring that experience out and make the team shine. This is an opportunity to mentor your boss on areas where they may lack experience and skills. For instance, you might have more operational experience in the area. You can step in and assist were you see a gap. Remember, a win for your department is a win for you all.

Keep Upskilling Where You Can

reporting to younger boss-keep upskilling

It is important to objectively assess your situation. Why didn’t get the position held by your boss? If you worked in the same company for a while, there are several reasons why people miss out on promotions. If you find out that you lack the required skills, it is time to start upskilling.

Be Confident in Your Contribution

reporting to younger boss - be confident

Reporting to a younger boss can put quite the dent in your self esteem and confidence. You have to consciously focus on your worth and keep the negative thoughts at bay. All those projects you did, the meetings you have attended and every decision you have made in your career have contributed to who you are. It doesn’t matter that you are now reporting to someone younger than you, you are still capable of great things and your contribution in the team is valuable.

Reach Out to Your Networks

reporting to younger boss - reach out to your network

His is undoubtedly a difficult situation that brings so much confusion to you and you might feel like its a little overwhelming. This is the perfect time to reach out to anyone in your network who might have gone through a similar experience. Reaching out gives you objectivity and helps remove bias. Remember this is a work situation and you will need to be as professional as you can. Friends and acquaintances may provide tips on how to cope and thrive in a seemingly undesirable situation.

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.