10 Proven Tips for Working with a Younger Manager

Age doesn’t have to be a barrier to having a good relationship with the boss.
Updated Sept. 23, 2023
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Getting along with a manager can lead to a positive and productive work environment. But some workers find the relationship to be more difficult when the manager is younger than they are.

As we get older in the workplace, it’s bound to happen. And the generational difference can bring a unique set of challenges.

Here are some tips that can help you get along with a younger manager so you can thrive at work and continue to get ahead financially.

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Don’t make assumptions

deagreez/Adobe attractive boss lady listening to businessman

You may be familiar with certain stereotypes about your younger manager’s generation. 

Or you may even have your own preconceived notions that are preventing you from getting promoted and getting out of living paycheck to paycheck.

Let go of these ideas and don’t assume you know how the boss will act or think in certain situations. If you approach the relationship with an open mind, they’ll likely do the same with you.

Get to know them

fizkes/Adobe multi ethnic employees working together

Take time to get to know your manager on a more personal level. Do they have any favorite hobbies? Where did they grow up?

Learning more about your boss can help create familiarity in the new relationship. If the age gap makes things uncomfortable, making interactions a little more friendly might help.

Be yourself

fizkes/Adobe confident male boss talking to colleagues

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You shouldn’t feel like you have to match the manager’s young energy or understand every reference they make.

Be confident in the personality you bring to the team. Just as you want to get to know the manager, being yourself can help them get to know you.

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Lean on your years of experience

fizkes/Adobe colleagues busy in completing projects

Some workers may feel the need to downplay their decades of experience if they have a younger manager or colleagues. They might fear coming off as condescending when talking about their work history.

Instead, take pride in your experience and openly talk about it with your boss. They likely already know a bit about your history, and this dialogue can allow you both to bring new and shared knowledge to the table. Just be careful about “lecturing” or “coaching” when you do this.

Be open to learning new things

insta_photos/Adobe businessman talking on video call meeting

Just because the manager is younger doesn’t mean you know more than they do. Be open to learning new things from the boss.

Whether there’s a new app you haven’t explored or a project management solution you’re not familiar with, allow them to show you the ropes. 

This will help facilitate a relationship in which your manager might also be open to learning new things from you.

Respect the relationship

SaneleGobinduku/peopleimages.com/Adobe female manager coaching female sales agent

Respect the working relationship between you and the younger manager. They may not have as many years of experience as you, but there is likely a good reason they’re in the position they are in.

Don’t try to mentor or manage them. Instead, ask the manager if your expertise can be of support to them in any way. But if they decline, don’t sweat it. It likely doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Get advice from others

fizkes/Adobe female colleagues having serious discussion

If you’re struggling to find your footing with a younger manager, ask friends or colleagues for advice. Have they ever been in a similar situation? What tips can they offer for navigating the relationship?

It can help to hear their experiences and get a fresh perspective from people who have already been through it.

Don’t focus on differences

bnenin/Adobe happy colleagues working on project together

It can be tempting to focus on how different you and the manager are. But this will only create more distance between you.

As you get to know them and start working on projects together, try to notice the areas where you have things in common. 

Whether it’s the way you solve problems or a summer activity you both enjoy, take a moment to acknowledge it and bond over it.

Learn how they like to communicate

GradyR/peopleimages.com/Adobe male employees working on tablet

Learn how your younger manager likes to communicate. Are they constantly asking for updates? Do they prefer instant message chats over in-person meetings?

Once you establish their preferences, you can more easily talk with them about how you communicate best. Then, work together to find communication methods that make sense for both of you.

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Remember your team’s goals

fizkes/Adobe multi ethnic colleagues talking at meeting

If you’re still struggling in your relationship with a younger manager, it can help to focus on the team’s overarching goals, especially if you can earn a bonus to help you make more money.

Recognize that you and the boss are each there to deliver your best work. This can help you see the bigger picture. Remember that in the end, you and the manager have a shared goal.

Bottom line

ClementC/peopleimages.com/Adobe multi ethnic candidates waiting for interview

Working for a younger manager can be challenging, especially if you have been in the industry for a few decades. Trying to relate to someone with different life experiences can be jarring at first.

However, with a little work and time, you can establish a healthy and meaningful relationship with your young boss. That will make it easier to boost your financial fitness in a job that feels fulfilling.

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Author Details

Liz Lane Liz Lane is a freelance writer who likes to help people understand complex topics like finance. She's passionate about making the most of her hard-earned money and wants to make sure her readers have the tools to do the same. She has worked for NBC, "Inside Edition," "The Dr. Oz Show," and more.

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