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Akpo Uyeh: Is it Really So Difficult to Work For a Boss Younger than You?



Even though we are made to believe that age is just a number, it is very serious issue…particularly in the African setting. Older people usually have the lion’s share and the best of everything. They are more privileged, believed to be more experienced, matured and of course responsible.

In some cases,  it is believed that older people are more ripe for marriage than younger people because they appear to be  better off in their choices having had their share of life experiences.

This sometimes trickles into the work place. Ideally, one is supposed to have a boss that is older and more experienced; that way you don’t feel intimidated or envious. The workplace would be conducive and less tense, since you know your place. But, what happens when it is the reverse?

For Betty, as she welcomed the new year, it was time for her to make a shift from her comfort zone in her workplace. Having spent five years in the same position, with no promotion, no form of visible growth and to top it all boredom of the highest order due to doing the same routine week in, week out, she thought it best to seek for another job. This time, she aimed for a higher position with obviously a higher pay in a new establishment.

She was fired up. You know the new year feeling, when you feel motivated to pursue new goals. One of her goals was to make the switch into better establishment with better opportunities, exposures, skill acquisitions and mouth-watering worker’s package.

As she made adjustment to her CV, she embarked on a job search, sent in her applications, kept her fingers crossed while hoping for positive outcomes. Soon, her phone beeped, it was a message that she had been shortlisted for a job interview in three days time.

Her next move was to prepare for the interview as the day drew closer. The day before her interview, after ironing her wear for the interview, she packed all the needed items into her handbag. Looking at the mirror, to see her facial expressions and body language  as she rehearsed possible answers, she felt confident that she would definitely get the job.

Fast forward to the D-day, she woke up quite earlier than usual, performed her morning routines and left for the job interview. Thankfully, she got there on time. She would have been disappointed if she had allowed the traffic show its ugly head. She was the first candidate at the job interview. That was a good sign for her.  Taking a deep breath before she was called upon, Betty maintained her composure and calmness.

Then, the time drew near and she was ushered in to meet the interviewer. As she opened the door, she was shocked to her bone marrow. The interviewer was a much younger lady than herself. Betty was in her mid thirties and the interviewer should be around her mid twenties. In her mind, she was like ‘What does this  one know?’

Looks can be deceiving, true! but she was sure than she was very much older than the interviewer. She had already started calculating how she would be saying ‘Yes Ma’ and taking orders from this young lady.

Based on the research that she conducted on the establishment, she was expecting to meet with the Managing Director. It was later that she learnt the person had retired recently before handing over to his daughter and that was the person interviewing her.

Even though, several thoughts were going through her head, Betty carried on with the interview professionally. She saw that the lady in question, even though younger, demonstrated competence, high level of expertise and IQ. She didn’t know whether she would like to work for someone younger than herself.

Being the eldest child in her family, she wasn’t answerable to her younger siblings,  who looked up to her for virtually everything. This was going to be a tough pill to swallow if she lands the job.

As she left the place of her job interview, pride crept in and Betty muttered that she would not like to work for someone younger than herself. It was ‘unto the next one for her’. She took time to  google her interviewer name and what she saw was very impressive. Her academic and professional qualifications were no where near hers yet she was older. For her, it was a wake up call, to acquire more skills, do a professional course, go for a higher degree, anything to step up her game but working for her junior, obviously a no-no.

On the flip side of side,  we see older women getting married to much younger men acknowledging them as the  head and being submissive, so then why is it difficult for people to work for younger bosses in the workplace?

Photo Credit: Stefan Dahl Langstrup |


  1. Aare farmland

    February 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    An interesting Nigerian article. if the company is well run, there is no problem working for a younger person like many do abroad. You are a professional and a well run company will understand that if you demonstrate willingness to work and understand company culture.. Also, there is general knowledge about an industry which an older person may have but also specific knowledge(company strategies, culture, products) which a younger manager may have mastered and which you have to learn from the younger person. Again a well run company that answers to shareholders not SMEs. be your because for the latter, age may not even be your headache it just adds to it.

    • Akpo Uyeh

      February 11, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks for taking time to read. You pointed out that age is not a big deal only if you make it. Working for a younger person shouldn’t be intimidating but professional.

  2. Mary

    February 6, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Extremely interesting read. I must say here that in as much as its not easily working for one you may be older than, its also a learning process for such older persons. The younger one who may likely have more skills set and knowledge as narrated would definitely have more to offer. Its often times not how long you’ve spent on a job but what are you bringing to the table.

    • Akpo Uyeh

      February 11, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks….. Oh, so you get my drift? Age might be a serious issue only if you let it be in the workplace

  3. DM

    February 6, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    She lacks an open mind and feels entitled because of her age. I have lost count of the younger minds who i learnt valuable lessons from over the last 17 years of my life.

    She won’t last a week with my siblings and my parents’ liberal style of parenting where each child matters regardless of position. I guess that’s why most people find it hard to believe i’m the first and keep asking about my elder ones.

    • Akpo Uyeh

      February 11, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Thumbs up! It appears your family is modernised, most African families are governed by age. Like you said, open-mindedness would the lady in question far

  4. Bee

    February 7, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Reading through this article; I kept saying in my mind “this one is not ready to work”.
    If she has all those good qualities you’ve mentioned,I don’t get why her age should be a problem. I have seen an older man drive someone that could be his son and they have maintained the relationship till his boss retired;so It’s really about professionalism and how they treat you.
    Please go for the job if you really want it; focus on the job not her age and hopefully you don’t rub her age in her face when she is addressing you. Don’t forget,this is not your house o you are there to make money and work don’t expect too much?

    • Akpo Uyeh

      February 11, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      ??Abi oo? Pursueing what’s important and not allowing pride take control. We can learn from anybody

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