Being Managed By Someone Younger

  1. So this question is primarily for the nurses who are older and perhaps just entering the workplace, for example as a second career (as I will be), or have been in this position when they first started out.

    How do you/did you handle being managed by someone much younger? Does it bother you, or do you not give it a second thought because that person, despite their age, has much more experience? How did they handle the situation?

    Just interested in different perspectives. I'm not trying to start an argument or say that younger nurses can't be great at their jobs, can't manage, or anything along those lines. I'm simply wondering if it has, or has the potential to, cause friction and how that is handled?
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  2. 36 Comments

  3. by   loriangel14
    It never really occurred to me this was an issue. I don't care if someone is younger. I was 41 when I started so many are younger than me.
  4. by   Emergent
    Now that I'm an oldster, this has become standard, although my current manager might be about my age.

    It's only natural that the young take the reins eventually. If they have leadership ability, they might end up being an old fart's boss.
  5. by   CrunchRN
    Now that I am 54 they are always younger lol. I evaluate them on how they perform.
  6. by   verene
    As a CNA our lead CNA was younger than me by several years. Her age was never an issue. She was an amazing Lead. Despite her being younger, I really looked up to her and valued her input and expertise. In nursing school I'm quite certain that many of the nurses I'm learning from on the floors are younger than me. Doesn't matter; they have experience and I don't.

    I could see it causing an issue if the younger person is not respected by their coworkers, or also has little experience in addition to youth.
  7. by   Everline
    I'm generally older than my supervisors since I became a nurse later in life. As long as there is basic respect between us, it is a non issue. The only time it really hit me—and I actually said something about it—was when a charge nurse young enough to be my daughter talked down to me like I was a child. That didn't fly and she never did it again after what was probably a rather unpleasant confrontation for her. But the truth of the matter is that it didn't have much to do with age, rather her style of dealing with others was less thoughtful than it probably should have been. Over all, I don't mind people younger than me teaching me and/or being my boss when they have more experience than I do and I can learn something from them. I have only been a nurse for a little over two years and have a lot to learn.
  8. by   Been there,done that
    My manager's age is not an issue, as long as they respect ME and take into consideration my depth of knowledge and my years of experience.
  9. by   NightNerd
    I'm almost 28 and my manager is like a year or two younger than me, so that was a little trippy at first, lol. But I really liked her as soon as I met her and she has been on the unit as a nurse, a coordinator, and now the manager, so I know she has that experience under her belt. I think I've brought other work experience with me that has been useful to the unit, and I know she has a different perspective from her position. It's a pretty good working relationship, overall. Like others said, it's all in the mutual respect for each other's knowledge and wisdom.
  10. by   Pepper The Cat
    I've been nursing for over 31 years.
    Our current Charge Nurse is at least 20 years younger than me. I don't care, because she is AWESOME! She does a great job as charge
    Age is but a number.
    That being said, if someone is entering the field later in life, they are going to have to accept that nurses younger than them will be telling them what to do.
    Its not about the age, its about the knowledge and the ability to do the job.
    Some nurses are able to be great charge nurses with only a few years experience, while others may have 30 years experience but still be lousy at charge.
  11. by   Union-Jack
    Thank you all for the input, and I agree whole-heartedly with everything said; that it is down to how you are spoken to / treated and not down to the age of the person. I can see it being an issue if the person has less experience and yet is condescending and talks down to you. I personally have no issue with the age of a manager, and it is something I will actually expect (to have a younger manager, that is) since I will be closing in on 50 by the time I graduate (fingers crossed I graduate!).

    So I guess my question stemmed from my current workplace where I only work part-time, and my manager has very little experience (1-2 years, compared to my 20+ years) and has said a few things that ruffled my feathers (although I bit my tongue and let it slide). I have no desire for their position and don't want to be the manager at my current workplace, so I am telling myself that I should just suck it up because they are eager and enthusiastic, and actually very good in most areas.

    I was trying to look inwards and trying to ascertain whether I was irritated by their age, their approach, or the fact that they have been mildly patronizing towards me given my ample experience. Hence, these answers have provided me with some food for thought based on my visceral reaction to their style.

    Furthermore, I don't want to bring a negative viewpoint with me when I transition into nursing, so I would like to confront this now before I even get onto the floor so that I can deal with (and resolve) any personal issues within myself with regard to my interaction with others if I'm ever in a similar situation.

    On reflection, therefore, I really believe that it is not the age I am prickled by; it is the approach combined with the limited experience. I have no problem with the limited experience per se, but when combined with a condescending approach it irks me.

    Thank you again for all for your input!
  12. by   smf0903
    Respect is not exclusive to age, and I think that's what people value in work relationships. I became an RN at a riper age so a lot of managers and charges are a lot younger than I am. My issues stem from those in high management positions who have painfully little floor experience (we're talking 6 months or less) and it's quite obvious given what is important in their eyes. I have trouble wrapping my brain around those who have advanced degrees/positions without the experience to back up the sentiment. In my experience it's lack OF experience, rather than calendar age, that can cause issues.
  13. by   TheCommuter
    Based on anecdotes, observations, and my personal experiences, most people do not have problems with younger managers or supervisors.

    On the other hand, people have problems with managers and supervisors of any age range who are disrespectful and abrasive toward workers. Those who hold leadership positions should treat employees with a certain degree of dignity and respect.
  14. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from Union-Jack
    Thank you all for the input, and I agree whole-heartedly with everything said; that it is down to how you are spoken to / treated and not down to the age of the person. I can see it being an issue if the person has less experience and yet is condescending and talks down to you. I personally have no issue with the age of a manager, and it is something I will actually expect (to have a younger manager, that is) since I will be closing in on 50 by the time I graduate (fingers crossed I graduate!).

    So I guess my question stemmed from my current workplace where I only work part-time, and my manager has very little experience (1-2 years, compared to my 20+ years) and has said a few things that ruffled my feathers (although I bit my tongue and let it slide). I have no desire for their position and don't want to be the manager at my current workplace, so I am telling myself that I should just suck it up because they are eager and enthusiastic, and actually very good in most areas.

    I was trying to look inwards and trying to ascertain whether I was irritated by their age, their approach, or the fact that they have been mildly patronizing towards me given my ample experience. Hence, these answers have provided me with some food for thought based on my visceral reaction to their style.

    Furthermore, I don't want to bring a negative viewpoint with me when I transition into nursing, so I would like to confront this now before I even get onto the floor so that I can deal with (and resolve) any personal issues within myself with regard to my interaction with others if I'm ever in a similar situation.

    On reflection, therefore, I really believe that it is not the age I am prickled by; it is the approach combined with the limited experience. I have no problem with the limited experience per se, but when combined with a condescending approach it irks me.

    Thank you again for all for your input!
    If someone younger and less experienced is talking down to you, might be time for a teaching moment. As the wiser, more experienced person, you could have a conversation with this person about how it feels to be condescended to and if she's aware that she presents that way.

    You would be doing her a favour.

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