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How HR can resolve the young boss-older employee conflict

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Transformational leadership is supposedly the best type of leadership to inspire followers but it doesn’t work for a young boss who is leading a team of older workers, according to a new study.

The study, authored by María Del Carmen Triana from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Orlando C. Richard from University of Texas at Dallas, and İlhami Yücel from Erzincan University, found older employees who work for younger bosses with less education and work experience have a tough time developing loyalty to their employer.

This is especially true when the younger managers are transformational-style leaders who try to inspire their subordinates to work for the good of the organisation by motivating them through their strategic vision, communication of the vision and commitment toward the vision.

“Transformational leadership is supposedly the best type of leadership to inspire followers. But what happens when your boss is less experienced or younger than you? You are less likely to respond to their leadership style. It also affects the level of commitment you have to the organisation because you feel you are more qualified than they are,” Richard said in a statement.

“From an HR standpoint, I think it’s important to make sure that you have the right leader in place because if employees feel that the wrong person is in charge, there could be negative consequences for the organisation down the road,” he added. “No one wants to work for someone who they feel doesn’t have the credentials.”

ALSO READ: Young workers are clocking in more working hours than older staff

For the study, researchers examined workplaces in both the United States and Turkey, and they also studied how the effects of a transformational leadership style and a supervisor’s gender predict a subordinate’s commitment.

In Turkey, the effect was stronger for men than women, while in the United States, the effect was stronger for women than men.

Men were penalised when they had less experience and education, and tried to display transformational leadership. When they were on par, their subordinates were more committed to them if they displayed transformational leadership styles.

“Women in management have to especially have the credentials in order to demand respect. If they do, and they display transformational leadership, they’ll experience more commitment from their employees,” he stated.

ALSO READ: Bosses trust staff who eat the same dishes as them

Photo/ 123RF

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