Intergenerational workforce

Younger bosses, older underlings

May 2, 2011: 12:23 PM ET

Was your boss still in diapers when you landed your first full-time gig? A few tips on how to build a solid working relationship.

By Stephenie Overman, contributor

FORTUNE -- Message to younger bosses: It's not that your older staffers don't understand how to use computers to communicate; it's that they prefer face-to-face contact.

"A younger boss tends to think that older workers are not as technologically savvy, not as quick," says Cam Marston, president of consulting firm Generational Insights. The truth is, Baby Boomers understand top-line messaging and Twitter but see technology as an adjunct rather than a necessity.

These Baby Boomers are continuing to work even as they reach retirement age and many find themselves reporting to younger people. A 2010 CareerBuilder poll of 5,200 workers found that 69% of workers 55 or older have younger bosses.

If you're one of those bosses, and you want to succeed with your older underlings, "get up from behind your desk. Look them in the eye, talk to them. Say: 'I need the project done by this date. Let me know if you need anything,'" advises Marston, who is the author of Motivating the "What's in It for Me?" Workforce: Manage Across the Generational Divide and Increase Profits. More

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