There are currently four generations in the workforce, so chances are you’ve found yourself in the position of having to work closely with someone older. Maybe you’re even in a powerful position in which you are trusted with weighty responsibilities.
But don’t let it go to your head. In particular, you’ll want to be careful about having an attitude of superiority.
In dealing with older co-workers, show humility and demonstrate respect for their years of experience. After all, they may have been doing the job while you were still in high school, and having a younger colleague might be a tough pill to swallow.
Even if you feel you know exactly what needs to be done, ask your co-workers for input and be open to learning from them. This way, they will want to see you succeed instead of undermining your position.
As soon as you are assigned to work with older colleagues, make sure you keep the lines of communication open. Schedule meetings, ensuring that they understand how you like to work. Strengthen the relationship by learning what’s important to them and showing interest.
If you’re going to happy hour, invite them. Once you get to talking about things you have in common, the age difference won’t seem so big.
– Alexandra Levit is the author of “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World,” and a nationally recognized authority on workplace issues facing young employees.
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