The millennials are the largest generation ever. Sooner or later, we’ll all be working for them.
Have you heard? The millennials are coming. They’re not only large, but ready to take charge.
Whether your reaction is “It’s about time” or “Over my dead body,” the fact is your next boss may well be younger than your dining room table.
If this seems unnatural, it is. Previous generations moved out of the workforce around age 65, making way for the young. But you, dear baby boomer, have likely not saved enough for retirement. By necessity, you may plan to stay on the job into your late 60s or early 70s, maybe beyond, thereby making it all but certain you’ll be working with and for millennials.
Meaning you’re going to have to make a few adjustments. Think of these as important new tools for workplace happiness and career success.
For starters, you’ll need to avoid appearing condescending when giving advice and recommendations. Your boss may seem like a kid to you, but you mustn’t let this show. Instead, couch your tone and delivery in terms of what’s best and strategic for the business. By all means, refrain from starting sentences with “When I was your age …” It may be a pity, but no one really cares how things were done way back when.
Second, always show that you respect your young boss’s authority. This means that when he or she chooses not to heed your wise counsel, you’re going to have to let it go. Definitely be the first in line to offer a congrats if everything works out. And if it all blows up in your boss’s face? Remember that no one likes to hear the words, “I told you so,” and step in to help pick up the pieces.
Third, consider that many millennials value group collaboration over the “lone cowboy” approach of yore. Be up for doing daily updates on your projects and to receiving lots of feedback. Most of all, learn to use the communication technologies they use — if your boss relies on instant messaging, you should, too.
Most of all, take heart. You have the skills, maturity and experience to gracefully cede the spotlight that has been yours for so long, putting the emphasis on “graceful” — because this transition is going to happen. Ready or not.