Question: What's worse than a boss who's dumber than you?
Answer: a boss who's younger than you.
Of course, a boss who's both dumber and younger would be the worst fate of all, but let's face it – there aren't many people who are dumber than you, but there are lots and lots and lots who are younger.
Maybe you've noticed this phenomenon. Your doctor retires and is replaced by a 16–year–old. Or someone who looks like a 16–year–old, anyway. It's happens and it's going to happen even more frequently. In the doctor's office. In your office.
It's a fact, Jack. The Baby Boomers have boomed and bloomed and now they're dying off. The Millennials – people who became adults in the year 2000 – are rising up the org chart as you sit there, squeezing your blood pressure cuff and throwing back Rogaine shots.
As Ann Brenoff predicts in “6 Tips for Working Successfully with a Younger Boss,” a recent article in “The Huffington Post,” “boomers are going to be working for bosses who are younger than their own children.”
The possibilities here are truly scary. If your boss is younger than your children, you have only two choices. Either you take away your boss's Xbox and send him to bed without supper, or you learn to get along with the little rat. Here are few tips to get you started.
Brenoff's Tip No. 1 is all about getting along. “Get used to it – literally,” she counsels. This is especially important if the younger person in your work life is the person interviewing you for a new job. You may want to approach a critical interview, showing ability and experience; but what you really want to show is R–E–S–P–E–C–T. “Younger interviewers are in that job because they've earned it,” advises author Brad Karsh, “and you want to show them you respect their experience and position.”
One problem Boomers have when interfacing with a teenage mutant interviewer is what to call the person. If aren't sure whether “youngin'” or “tyke” is quite right, I have the perfect suggestion. Use “Dude.”
Tip No. 2 is “Rethink where and how you network.” You're not going to make valuable contacts hanging out with the old fogies at the Kit Kat Klub. Career consultant Jayne Mattson recommends “inviting over a group of your children's friends and work colleagues to let them know you are on the job market.”
This may seem uncomfortable and embarrassing, but don't let that stop you. Let your children and their friends know exactly how perilous your financial future will be if they don't immediately find you a job. Your children will certainly be motivated – especially when they realize that if you don't have a job, they will have to support you.
“Drop the stale language” is tip No. 3. I agree. Hip new expressions you can use are “groovy,” gnarly” and “let's run it up the Justin Bieber and see who salutes.” [Note: all of these cool, contemporary expressions sound even better when appended, "Dude.”]
“Save the war stories for when someone shows a genuine interest” is Tip No. 5. The Boomer is cautioned to stay calm when asked “what it was like to work in your chosen field 'back in the day.'” Frankly, I think this question represents a great opportunity. Explain what it was like for you and Henry Ford to walk 30 miles through the snow to get to work every morning – after you had fed the cows and milked the pigs. Talk about how government didn't understand the needs of business, especially when that rascal, Abe Lincoln, was in the White House. And if the job for which you are interviewing involves sales, expound on how you honed your sales skills the hard way, knocking on the doors of caves, dressed in your finest loin cloth, and staying upbeat, even if it meant having to use your club to fight off angry mastodons.
“Don't read rudeness when none is intended” is Tip No. 6. As Brenoff writes, “it may feel rude to you if someone checks his texts while you are answering his questions.” This is just the way Millennials roll, the experts suggest, so don't take it personally. Just use your club to knock the cellphone out of their teeny little hands, and show that even an old coot like you knows how to belong.
“Groovy to meet you,” you might say as you glide out the door on your skateboard. “I mean it, Dude.”
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.