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My New Boss Is A Lot Younger Than Me. Should I Be Mad?

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Mar. 13 2020, Published 6:30 a.m. ET

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Having a new boss that’s a lot younger than you are can stir up insecurities, especially if that person has less work experience than you do. And if that person was hired or promoted to the position above you, it can stir up anger and confusion.

So, should you be mad? Maybe.

They May Be More Experienced Than You Think

While they have fewer years in the workforce under their belts, the experience they do have could be perfectly relevant to the job. They may have already been a manager or successfully led the kinds of projects their new position requires. Before you jump to conclusions, consider that their experience may be quite rich. 

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They’re Probably Uncomfortable Too

The arrangement is probably bringing up insecurities for your new boss too. Managing people with more experience is intimidating and is the perfect circumstance for imposter syndrome to thrive. You’re older and possibly wiser, so set an example for the rest of the office for how to treat coworkers, regardless of age. In this way, you can even become a kind of mentor for your team.

You Can Absolutely Learn From Someone Younger Than You Are

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Lest we forget, there are things to be learned from all people, regardless of age. You never know what this new boss might teach you, so treat this experience as a chance to learn. And even if the arrangement is a disaster, you’ll simply learn what not to do. 

You Can Still Play A Leadership Role

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There are going to be areas where you have more experience and success than your new boss. Be a leader. That might mean maintaining a good attitude, weighing in on strategy, drawing on past experience, or demonstrating respect. 

Sometimes It’s Just Not Deserved

But let’s be honest: Sometimes the boss just doesn’t deserve to be there. All of us will encounter people in our careers who aren’t qualified for their seats. Then what?

If you were passed up for a promotion and you believe that position should have been yours, talk to the higher-ups. Ask what criteria was used to fill the manager’s position and why you weren’t selected. Express that you want to move up in the organization and ask for clear and documented criteria for getting a promotion.

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There Could Be Age Discrimination Going On

Age discrimination is a problem in the workplace. A study by AARP found that 72 percent of women and 57 percent of men aged 45 to 74 have experienced age discrimination at work. One way ageism shows up in the workplace is in hiring and promotion practices. If you look around the workplace and everyone at the management level is young, you may have an age discrimination problem.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers over the age of 40 from discrimination in the workplace, and some states have laws that protect workers under the age of 40. If you think age discrimination is the reason for your new young boss, bring the issue to your company’s HR department, and if they don’t handle the problem, contact the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).

This article was written by Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza of In Her Sight.

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