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Your New Boss is Younger Than Your Kids - Now What?

By Bob on September 15, 2010 6:03 AM

Today's job market sucks. For many Boomers, the only thing that sucks worse is finally landing that new job - only to discover that your boss is the age of your oldest child. Now what do you do? How do you create a happy work environment that'll keep you employed at least until the mortgage is paid off and the last kid gets out of college?

Generations Inc Authors - 325.jpgWe put that question to Meagan and Larry Johnson, coauthors of Generations Inc. - From Boomers to Linksters, Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work (AMACOM Books, 2010.)


The daughter/father team offers some expert advice on helping Boomers bridge the age gap. Here's what they had to say.



Tips for Baby Boomers With Younger Bosses 


Swallow Your Pride

It may be hard to admit, but the younger person may have more cutting edge skills than you. So if it galls you that she's now your boss, get over it. Your grousing won't do any good.


Don't Compete - Support

Everyone wants the support of subordinates - especially bosses who may feel threatened because they have to manage someone older. So don't try to compete with your younger boss, or prove that you are smarter or better experienced. Trying to prove it will only alienate him.


Match Your Communication Style

As a Boomer, you probably prefer face-to-face communication, with phone conversations coming in a close second. And that may be true for your young manager, but it's unlikely. A recent Pew Research Poll found that 75% of all American teenagers have a cell phone and 54% text daily. So it's no surprise that your Gen Y boss may prefer electronic communication to face-to-face. Ask her what she prefers.


Avoid "Grandpa-isms"

"When I was your age...." "Back in the day...." "The way we used to do it...." Blah, blah, blah. It's tempting to reminisce about the past. Really, Generation Y can't imagine being as old as you are, so stop rambling on about the way it used to be. Your responsibility is to produce so the team and your boss succeed, not to relive the touchdown you scored back in high school.


Stay Current

You'll need the latest technical and business skills to contribute and earn your keep. Besides, after you retire, they may come in handy. We know a Boomer telecommunications engineer who got certified in working with a new system six months before she retired. After she left, the company hired her part time to consult and do contract work for them because of her extensive experience and her current certification.


Avoid Comb-Overs, Pho-hawks and Tattoos

If you go to unusual lengths to look younger than you are, you'll just look silly. So dress your age and do a great job. That's what counts.


Offer to Mentor

You probably have significant skills that can be of use to others in the organization, especially if they can be tied to productivity, profitability, product quality, or organizational efficiency. Offer individual coaching, training sessions and/or blogs that make that wisdom available to others. Setting it up so your boss gets the credit for sponsoring it doesn't hurt either.


Always acknowledge the virtues of his side first 

Provide solutions, or suggestions along with the disagreement. Never whine.


Stay positive

Avoid complaining about the company, your boss, your co-workers, or anyone unless you are speaking to the person in question and are ready to be proactive in solving the problem.


MEAGAN JOHNSON AND LARRY JOHNSON, a father-daughter team, are the Johnson Training Group whose clients include American Express, Harley-Davidson, Nordstrom, Dairy Queen, and many others. They are noted public speakers on the subjects of generations in the workplace and building productive corporate cultures, and other management challenges.  


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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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