Am I Managing My Parents?

Am I Managing My Parents?

In the workplace today, there are up to four generations working together within the same job positions (Amayah & Gedro, 2014; Farrell & Hurt, 2014; Gursoy, Maier, & Chi, 2008; Kilber, Barclay, & Ohmer, 2014), with many of these generations comprised of employees the age of an employee’s parents or children.  This creates a generationally diverse workplace for many industries.  Traditionally, it has been thought that more tenured employees are the ones taking management positions and overseeing the less tenured, typically younger, employees.  However, with increasing retirement ages, older workers are remaining in the labor force longer with their priorities shifting from financial benefits to lifestyle benefits (Kulik, Ryan, Harper, & Georage, 2014).  Management positions are being taking on by younger employees.  These changes result in younger generation workers managing employees who may be decades older than themselves.  With factors like lifestyle, environments, societal factors, and world events shaping generations, younger employees are sure to have different approaches to managing employees when compared to older employees in the same positions.

Organizations may struggle with determining how to prepare for training workers just a few years out of college who will be leading generations that are older than them.  Tensions exist when different generations are working in similar job positions (Farrell & Hurt, 2014; Gursoy et al., 2008).  The different beliefs of different generations about how work should be completed ultimately impacts organizational performance (Cheng, 2013; Espinoza, Ukleja, & Rusch, 2010; Lester, Standifer, Schultz, & Windsor, 2012).  As the workforce in many organizations shifts to young employees managing employees as old as their parents, organizations need to be comfortable with the idea of young managers leading older generations.  Organizations should learn from the challenges and failures surrounding a generationally changing work environment in order to create a successful workplace environment for all employees.

Some suggestions are for organizations to increase transparency, inform younger employees of the long-term plans, and provide developmental work (Ferri-Reed, 2014).  Organizations that are clear with information about what employees can do to progress in the organization and how the organization will help can help to solidify long-term employees and prepare them for management positions.  Organizations can also promote an understanding of how generations work together and providing real-world experience (Putre, 2013).  For example, providing information about different generational beliefs and allowing different generations to work directly with each other will provide experience for young leaders.  A final suggestion would be for organizations to create a group for young leaders to collaborate together (Putre, 2013).  This allows for young employees to meet and discuss what works well and what does not in order to learn to enhance their skills.  Enhancing organizational preparedness for young leaders promotes opportunities for young leaders to emerge and continue with organizational successes.


Amayah, A. T., & Gedro, J. (2014). Understanding generational diversity: Strategic human resource management and development across the generational 'divide.' New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, 26(2), 36-48. doi:10.1002/nha3.20061

Cheng, T. L. (2013). Attitudes towards work, life, career and the world view: Three generational perspectives across Malaysia. Journal of Business Management and Administration, 1(4), 49-58. Retrieved from

Espinoza, C., Ukleja, M., & Rusch, C. (2010). Managing the millennials. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Farrell, L., & Hurt, A. C. (2014). Training the millennial generation: Implications for organizational climate. E Journal of Organizational Learning & Leadership, 12(1), 47-60. Retrieved from

Ferri-Reed, J. (2014). Are millennial employees changing how managers manage? Journal for Quality & Participation37(2), 15-35. Retrieved from

Gursoy, D., Maier, T., & Chi, C. (2008). Generational differences: An examination of work values and generational gaps in the hospitality workforce. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27, 448-458. Retrieved from

Kilber, J., Barclay, A., & Ohmer, D. (2014). Seven tips for managing generation Y. Journal of Management Policy & Practice, 15(4), 80-91. Retrieved from

Kulik, C. T., Ryan, S., Harper, S., & George, G. (2014). Aging populations and management. Academy of Management Journal57(4), 929-935. Retrieved from

Lester, S. W., Standifer, R. L., Schultz, N. J., & Windsor, J. M. (2012). Actual versus perceived generational differences at work an empirical examination. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 19(3), 341-354. Retrieved from

Putre, L. (2013). 8 tips to manage staff across the ages. Hospitals & Health Networks87(11), 38-49. Retrieved from

About the Author

Aaron Sour



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
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American Psychological Association Conference-Utilizing Clinical Hypnotherapeutic Intervention with CBT to Treat Pandemic-Aug. 13-2021 Symptomology

ILA Conference Geneva Switzerland 2021
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