Ageism sucks

In my new role, I’m the manager of a young team of millennials. None of them have yet to reach the age of 30.

And it doesn’t matter.

They’re a smart, dedicated, talented group of people. They’re all good at their jobs, and they have some great ideas.

When I mention this team to others in my age cohort, I frequently get comments about how hard they must be to manage, or their work ethic, or other millennial tropes. I’ve corrected a few people who have called them “kids.” They’re functioning adults, just like the rest of us. Yes, they lack some experience, but that only comes with time, and they have plenty of that.

I defend my team pretty hard. But why? They’re not my generation. In some cases, I’m actually old enough to be a parent to them – and not “well, if I fathered a child in my teens, technically.”

Generation X, my generation, was much maligned. We were called lazy slackers. Video games supposedly had rotted our minds and ruined our attention spans. We graduated from college into a crappy economy, and many of us were thought to still be mooching off of our parents. Sound familiar? Millennials are getting the same bad, undeserved rap.

But there’s another side to that as well. Throughout my job search, I frequently felt I was being judged as “too old” for a position for which I was well qualified, usually by a younger hiring manager. I found ageism in corners where I didn’t expect it, which I thought strange for a guy still in his 40s. And you know what? It sucks to be judged on anything other than your abilities.

So back to my young team. I’ve told them this, and I think it’s a pretty good rule by which to live:

“I won’t judge you for your age as long as you don’t judge me for mine.”

 

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