I’m the youngest executive at my company with peers 20 years my senior.
Dear Maria, I graduated college with an amazing job offer from my internship. I worked really hard and proved myself to my supervisors. Within the 1st year my performance was unmatched and I was gratefully offered a promotion to an executive role. Prior to myself most executives at the company have worked here 10+ years or have 20+ years experience in the industry.
I am in my mid 20’s while all of my peers are 40+. There is only one other executive who I relate to and treats me like a peer, and she is still 10 years older than me. She is the one who confirmed for me that my feelings were accurate and that in fact the rest of the executives feel I don’t belong in the position because I am so “young.” I am constantly having my ideas brushed off, or the older colleagues team up against me often because they think I don’t know what I’m talking about because I just started. I have actually heard some of them say that.
Nonetheless, I still work just as hard but they in fact are making my workdays harder by having this resistance to me. As a team things could get done easier if they would just be open minded to listening to me, because funny enough my boss often sides with my resolutions to things. Now before you ask if I have talked about this with my boss, I have. She told me that she warned me about this when I took the position, which is true, but I wish she would put an end to that chatter. What should I do?
– Young But Ready
Wheeewwwff!!! You are preaching to the choir with this one! I’m sure many readers will relate as well, so thank you for writing this one in.
Unfortunately there are generational points of view that are drastically different depending on when you entered the workforce. I find that more young millennials in the workforce don’t have the same affinity to the concept that only 10+ years at a job can determine your work ethic. Experience can come from many different avenues, some being through secondary education & internships. The boomer generation heavily believes in the narrative that working somewhere for an extended period of time is the only way to truly have the experience needed for said jobs. Below is a great video explaining the multigenerational differences from as far back as 10 years ago:
In your specific situation, I think it’s really crappy that your supervisor is condoning this biased behavior. By ignoring these behaviors she’s perpetuating that culture which very quickly can be the demise of your company as more Boomers are retiring and more Millennials/Gen-Zers are entering the workforce. The change needs to start NOW.
I love that you are focused on still working just as hard. Keep that work ethic and I actually think you presented your very own answer. If being resistant is directly affecting productivity, then that is a very clear and concise reason for your boss to make it a priority to change those behaviors quickly. If you haven’t presented this to her like that, then you must do so. Focus on numbers, achievements and impact and express that for the overall success of the company it is always better for age bias–or any other bias–to be dealt with from the top down.
If she for some reason is not receptive, then this is the time to bubble up your concerns. Hopefully you can partner with someone above her or even your human resources team since there should be firm practices in the workplace already against ageism. Also it may be helpful to get your colleague who has shown you support to double-down on this point. Having her echo your concerns about productivity may break through the barrier of your older peers.
I feel like there’s still hope for your coworkers to come around, so stay in the game especially if the quality of your work keeps proving itself!