Young boss, old worker: BFFs! Not!

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…or so worries Donald Trump, according to his blog. (Donald Trump blogs! Fo real? I put my so-not-Trumpesque fortune on an intern tapping out his infrequent, blandly written posts.) He/the intern writes:

In today’s multi-generational workplace, it’s not unusual for an older worker to have a younger boss. In order for that relationship to survive, both partners have to capitalize on each other’s experiences and strengths.

Trump/intern cites a study by staffing company Randstad, but the link leads instead to this well-reported Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that says:

One-fifth of employed adults are older than their bosses, according to a survey last year by Randstad USA, an Atlanta-based staffing company.

Wow! One in five! What’s more:

And that number is likely to increase as more older workers say they plan to stay in the work force even after they retire. This year, an average of 4.6 adults turn 65 each minute, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That rate will almost double by 2025.

A well-documented retirement boom has begun already, as the oldest baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) begin to take early retirement and approach the age for traditional retirement. A 2005 Merrill Lynch study of baby boomers’ retirement plans found that more than three-quarters see themselves doing some sort of work during their retirement years.

So here’s the prob. Millions of working Americans are hitting retirement age with no intention of retiring. Some will remain in the corner office; no biggie there, office politics-wise. But the worker bees among them will see ever younger people hoisted into management roles above them. And many retirees will try new lines of work in which they’ll begin at the bottom rung.

And that could mean a cultural clash. Again from the AJC:

There are some potential pitfalls ahead. The Randstad survey found that three-quarters of older workers (age 55 and older) said they relate well to younger workers, but only 56 percent of all employees said they relate well to older workers, and 77 percent said younger workers do not seek advice from employees older than 50.

I see this already in my workplace. Over the past year, some of my peers have been promoted into seriously senior positions, leapfrogging over many of their own seniors. I strongly believe in promotions based on merit, and in my view every single one of my peers deserve the new responsibilities. But I’ve overheard plenty of grumbling from skipped-over longtime staffers. And as I slip from young whippersnapper to mid-career line worker, I do wonder what lies ahead for me in a notoriously ageist industry. How will I feel about being edited by a twentysomething twerp? How will she feel about editing me, a thirtysomething geezer?

Any of you out there with younger bosses? What’s that like?

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