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. Good for you!
Now…don’t let it go to your head. In particular, you’ll want to be careful of having an attitude of superiority. In dealing with an older co-worker, show humility and demonstrate respect for her years of experience. After all, she may have been doing her job while you were still in high school, and having a younger colleague with a similar title might be a tough pill for her ego to swallow.
Even if you feel you know exactly what needs to be done, ask your co-worker for input and be open to learning from her. This way, she will want to see you succeed instead of undermining your position.
As soon as you are assigned to work with an older colleague, make sure you are keeping the lines of communication open. Schedule regular project meetings, ensuring that he understands where you are coming from and how you would like to work on an everyday basis. Strengthen the relationship by learning what’s important to him and showing interest in those things even if you can’t relate to them personally.
If you’re going to happy hour with your younger work pals, invite her along. Once you get to talking about things you have in common – like Major League Baseball or overseas travel, the age difference won’t seem quite as significant.