Boss Baby, starring Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow premiered this past weekend. It's the story of a baby who not only takes over a family (as all babies do) but is a savvy business baby, intent on finding a way to stop the influence of evil puppies in the world. Puppies, you see, distract from the cuteness of babies.
It's funny and everyone who has a little brother or sister can relate to that moment when you got dethroned. But what about in the real world. Have you ever had a job where a "Boss Baby" took over? That is, have you ever worked with a significantly younger manager?
This isn't an article about Millennials, although most of today's boss babies are Millennials. It's about dealing with any type of boss baby. It could be someone who is chronologically younger than you are, and it could be dealing with someone who has less experience in your field than you do. Either way, it's a challenge. Here are some ways to deal with your own boss baby.
Assume she was hired for a reason.
Why did the big boss bring in a new manager with fewer years of experience than you have? Well, I don't know, but you should assume that there was a good reason. Perhaps the big boss wanted to make a change. Perhaps your new manager has a specific management skill that is needed. If you assume that your new boss baby is the right person for the job, he or she will be more likely to succeed. A successful boss is great for you, too.
Don't tell her what to do.
Every new boss needs training and frequently, direct reports do a lot of that training. That's normal and not what I'm talking about. You can certainly teach your new boss how to process order on the system, but when she says "we're going to start doing Y first and then X and Z," you say, "okay." If you're convinced this is a stupid idea, you can explain why, as you would with a boss who had 10 years more experience than you do but remember she's the boss and these are the types of decisions the boss gets to make.
Treat the baby boss like a real adult.
It can be easy to fall into an "Oh, Jane is straight out of MBA school, she doesn't have any real-world experience," trap. If you start talking like this and convincing your coworkers to join you in this boss bashing, your department won't be very successful. It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You treat her like she's incompetent, and, surprise!, your department will not prosper. If she's a good manager, she'll recognize what you're doing and tell you to knock it off, and maybe fire you if you don't stop. You've been warned.
If you can't figure out why she's the boss, ask!
No, you don't want to walk up to your new boss and say, "Why on earth were you hired over someone that was more experienced?" But you can go to her boss and say, "I'm confused as to why you decided to hire someone who is new to the field to manage this department. Can you tell me why you went this direction?" Then shut up and listen. You'll probably learn something.
Working for someone who lacks your experience can turn out great. As long as you approach it like an adult and treat your new boss like she deserves the job, it will go great. Yes, your experience will be helpful, and maybe that's why the big boss felt a newby could manage the group. See it as a positive thing and it will be positive.