I just started a new job on Wednesday. This is a holdover job until something better comes along, and is nothing more than that.

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Unfortunately for me, I have a job where the majority of other workers are high school or younger college-aged students. As if that isn’t awkward enough, three of the shift managers are younger than me! Two are even seniors in high school. Being that I am several years beyond high school and out of college, this is very awkward for me.

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I have to take orders from people who are no older than 18. I know they don’t have as much work experience as me, simply because of age. The one girl was already complaining to me yesterday about how she has not gotten her raise yet and has more responsibility for less pay. I just cannot relate to that after looking for a full time job for two years with very little success.

I did apply to be a shift manager at my new employer (the ad said they were looking for regular staff and shift managers), but I wasn’t even considered for that position. But somehow a 17-year-old is more qualified than me to lead? It just seems unfair.

Like I said, this is a holdover job, because I do plan on leaving as soon as something full time or better paying comes along…I did forget to mention this is only a minimum wage job! But I don’t want to make my experience there totally miserable either. How can I accept this and get along with my much younger coworkers?

So you’re planning to leave as soon as something better comes along but you’re bitter that they didn’t consider you for a more responsible position anyway? And you’re annoyed that you have to answer to people younger than you, even though you don’t seem to have any substantive complaints about their ability to do their jobs, only about their ages?

If there’s an immaturity issue here, it’s the idea that responsibilities should be awarded based on age or years of work experience, rather than on ability to do the job. You’re thinking about age too much, which isn’t the most, uh, grown-up mindset.

People have managers who are younger than them all the time. Throughout your career, you’re going to have managers who are older than you, younger than you, more experienced than you, less experienced than you, more educated than you, and less educated than you. If you’re stuck on the idea that it’s only “fair” to report to a manager who is older and has more years of work experience than you, you’re basically setting yourself up to feel resentful … and believe me, your managers are going to be able to pick up on it.

Your manager’s age is irrelevant. What matters is whether your manager gives you clear expectations, a bar for performance that’s both high and reasonable, honest feedback, and the resources you need to do the job. There are 60-year-olds who never manage to do that, and there are 17-year-olds who do.

I suggest that you try to respect your managers and coworkers regardless of age, because doing so will be a good lesson in maturity for you.


57 comments… read them below

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Anonymous* April 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I am a woman, late 20s, and currently in a situation where I’m the manager of several emotional divorced women older than my parents. We are in an office environment and I have been able to hold my ground so far by being very firm and professional. I believe the respect and trust is there as they’ve slowly shown me signs but there is one woman who probably gives me the most problems but is my best employee. She has an attitude and can get very negative, but for many months now I’ve been able to sit her down and deal with her negativity because she is diligent and does a good job, but over the last week or so, things started to change.

She has improved since I’ve been here and apparently has had a history but lately, things have gotten tense and to a point where I can no longer be simply firm and professional. The example – she walked out on me in a middle of a conversation and slammed her door when there were about 20 staff members sitting outside my office.

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I can not accept this type of behavior and she’s never gotten this far. I’m having a light conversation tomorrow AM over breakfast in a conference room to address the situation but because of her volatility, hope the conversation fares well.

Have any of you ever dealt with this type of situation?


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