Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. workers with a younger boss, according to the results of a recent Harris Interactive survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder. That number will only grow as more Baby Boomers retire and members of the Millennial generation – who vastly outnumber their older colleagues from Generation X – step into management positions.
But not all dispensary employees adjust to this reality and unfortunately, clashing with a younger dispensary manager can hurt your career prospects. If you don’t get along with your boss, you’re not going to get tapped for promotions or plum assignments.
Struggling to adapt to having a younger manager can also affect your health and well-being. A recent study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that most workers at firms with managers younger than themselves reported having more negative emotions, such as anger and fear than those with older bosses.
The key to thriving under your Millennial dispensary manager is to understand and address the dynamics that the age difference creates. Follow these tips to cultivate a connection with a younger boss.
1. Address the Age Gap
When you’re working for a significantly younger boss, it’s impossible to ignore the age difference. Of course, broaching the topic with your dispensary boss can be awkward, but when done tactfully, it can strengthen the relationship.
For example, you could say to your boss, ‘I know there’s a stereotype that older workers like myself don’t want to learn new technology, but I’m the opposite. I’m always looking to learn new skills.‘
It’s also important to show your manager that you see yourself as a team member – not a rival. You can communicate that by saying, ‘I understand that there’s an age difference, and I want you to know that I’m here to support you, and I hope you’ll engage my expertise.’
2. Find Common Ground
Once that’s out of the way, you can focus on building a rapport, which is the foundation of any great business relationship. Rather than dwelling on generational differences, focus on what you have in common. You can pose nonwork-related questions to get a sense of your dispensary manager’s hobbies (‘Did you catch the Broncos game last night?’) and then connect over shared interests.
3. Embrace Change
Since younger employees are new to the workforce, they may be less likely to be stuck in the mindset that there’s only one way to do things. Willingness to learn new skills and that attitudes made the job as a dispensary manager a whole lot easier.
Cannabis is an ever-changing industry, things change rapidly, so you have to progress with it and learn how important it is to be flexible and to not be afraid to learn new things.
4. Tailor Your Communication Style
Some Millennial workers prefer to communicate via e-mail or text rather than talking things out in person – but don’t jump to any conclusions based solely on a person’s age. Find out what your dispensary manager’s favored method of communication is and then embrace it.
You may have to learn how to use new tools, such as chat programs like Slack, but doing so will only enhance your knowledge, experience and career opportunities. You may also find it helpful to keep your discussions brief since the younger generation is used to having much faster, more pointed conversations.
5. Avoid Stereotypes
Just as there is a stigma associated with being an older worker, there are negative stereotypes of Millennials, including that they are entitled, easily distracted and narcissistic. However, these perceptions are often misguided. It’s human nature to make assumptions and judgments based on age, but being able to suspend those can make you a better employee.
6. Be a Collaborator – Not a Mentor
As someone with more experience, you may feel tempted to become an unofficial mentor to your boss. That can backfire. You can talk about your experience, but you have to use language that won’t come off as degrading or condescending.
Rather than offering unsolicited career advice, give your dispensary manager helpful historical information about your job and the organization. For instance, you can say, ‘In my experience, I’ve found XYZ to be particularly useful when communicating with our clients.‘ Offering to help your boss get settled in and acclimated to the team can also cement a good working relationship.
Many younger managers are already worried that they won’t be taken seriously, especially when it’s their first time supervising older workers, so choose your language carefully. To avoid coming across as a know-it-all (or, worse, a stick-in-the-mud), steer clear of these phrases:
- When I was your age…
- This is the way we’ve always done it…
- I’ve been doing this since before you were born…
7. Don’t Try Too Hard to Be ‘Cool’
Generally, it’s OK to befriend your boss; after all, research from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business found that managers tend to promote people they like. But that doesn’t mean you should adopt youthful mannerisms or catchphrases that you wouldn’t otherwise use.
Don’t worry if your personal responsibilities prevent you from socializing with your boss and co-workers after hours.
No matter how old you are, the coolest thing you can be is authentic.
Let us know what you think.