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Friday, April 30, 2010

in which I am accused of being a bitter old woman

Someone does not like me very much and thinks I may be "older" and bitter.

Ha ha.


BossLady said...

Pefect follow up comment!

lisle said...

Oh, puh-leaz. How is the obvious, golden-rule advice of making coffee when the pot is empty more enlightening than anything you said? Although I am a doddering old hag, I can still remember somewhere in my foggy old brain being distinctly disappointed in having to work my way up the ladder by taking a job as a receptionist, despite my education. I quickly learned that I could volunteer to help the Public Relations department with some of their tasks, e.g. proofreading press releases. Within a year, they'd created a position for me. Oh, and I made coffee. Which I'm sure is the real reason they carved out a niche just for me.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog, but I do think that there's a little air of superiority and peevishness about that particular advice when taken out of the context of the entire blog. Of course, you're always going to have that when you're starting from the theme of "things other people are doing wrong."

How about taking this as a challenge to reframe your advice in a way that won't cause defensiveness in the very people who would be able to benefit most from it? As a young professional myself, I know that my colleagues and I are uniformly tired of feeling looked down on because of our age. It's wisest to take even blunt, pointed criticism as an opportunity to improve, but how many people can really do that when they're already struggling just to get a foothold in the workplace, and every biting comment about their age group feels like another blow to keep them out of the "in crowd" who aren't expected to put up with the same abuse as are young people? Add to that the fact that the prefrontal cortex, governing judgment and complex thoughts, isn't fully mature until at least age 25.... Are you really surprised that young people feel a little wounded by advice that begins with the assumption they're deeply flawed and making big mistakes?

I'd like to see a followup post that instead of offering things young professionals are doing wrong, offers the six best things they can begin to do today in order to achieve a better career in the future. The negative advice is helpful when one is in the frame of mind to accept it, but most people who need that advice aren't. A little positivity would go a long way.

Evil HR Lady said...

Ha! You are old and bitter. Ancient, even, I think. I mean if you're in your 30s then that means you are like, my ageish and we all know I'm old and bitter.

Loved your comment. Alicia is in for a world of surprise.

Karenne said...

Oh c'mon anonymous! I've never seen anything posted here that seems to look down on people because of their age, and if you're getting that from other places it's unfair to accuse everyone of it. I like this site BECAUSE it's blunt and pointed and would rather have that than sugarcoated tripe that passes for advice in some other places. There's been plenty of advice here on what to do right and if people get upset by hearing about what they do wrong, they need to grow a pair.

Angela said...

Totally agree with your point of view. The younger generation needs all the help they can get, thanks to parents who raised them as precious little snowflakes.

And I love that the folks who commented on the post were behind you as well.

Anonymous said...

@Karenne, Like I said, I love this blog. That doesn't mean I can't understand how someone might feel pretty frustrated after a while. I mean, look at Evil HR Lady's comment. I love her blog, too. I check both of these every day! But young people get tired of hearing older professionals cackle about how we're "in for a world of surprise," rather than actually reaching out and extending a positive, helpful hand.

I mean, everyone likes to have a little bit of a laugh at someone going through a difficult phase that they survived and grew from. One of the benefits of aging is the right to act a little smug and superior toward the people who are making mistakes you made once upon a time. 20-somethings get to tease teenagers, 30-somethings get to tease 20-somethings, and so on and so forth.

But just like saccharine "advice" about "love yourself and keep your energies up and all will fall into place!" gets tiring, so does snarky, negative criticism about an entire age group. I think there's a void in between the two that could be filled with empowering and positive, realistic but not cynical, advice to help build young professionals up without tearing them down first.

a. brown said...

Since when is help and advice a synonym for criticism? As for how this sounds when taken out of context, I hope we can always have the expectation that college graduates have the smarts to put things in context.

And before I'm labeled bitter (great sexist label, btw), I am one of the "youngs".

a. brown said...

@Anonymous - nowhere on this blog is snarkiness directed at younger workers (snarkiness, yes, but wonderful non-discriminatory snark). Alison isn't responsible for everything else a young worker might read about them, and as for that world of surprise, that's the world. No getting around it.

Secondly, after "bitter", "cackle" is just as friggin sexist. Doesn't anyone remember Hillary Clinton and CackleGate?

Evil HR Lady said...

Anon, thanks for reading my blog! I love that you do.

I do want to say, however, that I don't see anything negative about Alison's advice. Sure, it's directed at new grads but it's valuable for all of us.

Just because you have a degree, or 15 years of experience in that field doesn't mean you can't know everything about the new job.

I wasn't trying to be condescending either, but I do think it's funny about how your perception of "old" changes with age. I'm 37 now and don't think I'm old at all. But, I remember, as a college student, saying to my roommates, "No woman over 30 should have long hair. They are just trying to look young." We all agreed 100% that this was true. 30 was ANCIENT and clearly old women have short hair.

For the record, my hair was down my back when I turned 30. Perspective changes!

When my college age niece asked me for some job hunting advice I said, read everything at Ask a Manager and Clue Wagon. Then I helped her with some salary expectations.

Ask a Manager said...

Hmmm, I don't think either EHRL or I have ever engaged in blanket criticism about an entire age group, and we both spend a lot of our own time reaching out and providing help to new professionals.

But of course there are SOME recent grads who really don't get it and are indeed going to be in for a world of surprise. Just like there are also some older workers who suffer from problems stereotypically attributed to being old -- like being resistant to change, technophobic, or whatever -- and their careers are going to suffer for it too.

As I've said before, I really like working with recent grads. I've hired a ton of them and plan to hire many more in my future. But is there specific advice that that age group tends to need more than others? Absolutely there is. And it would be weird if that *weren't* the case, since by definition they have less experience in the work world. There's no real shame in that; it's just the reality of having less years of work under their belts. We've all been there.

It's when someone chooses to freak out about the advice and claim that it's rooted in something that it's not (bitterness or whatever), as Alicia did at the post I linked to, that it becomes really hard not to laugh at them.

Anonymous said...

The article linked was rather interesting. She had me hooked in her first paragraph, but then she totally went all out on criticism on AAM. I thought she was giving advice on what she thinks to be the best combinations of advice for graduating college seniors, but instead it was about AAM. It's one thing to say, "I disagree." But it's another to take the whole space of her article and dedicated to criticising someone else's article. It's juvenile.

In what has been criticized, the only thing I have to say about is the first item on the list - sense of entitlement. Yes, the graduation seniors (and say my class of a couple of years ago) do have a sense of entitlement once they have that piece of parchment in their hands. I have said this before, but I'll say it again. That entitlement is not made up in our heads. The college we attended spark that in us. Go ahead and disagree (each college is different), but when I graduated, I sensed that the college expected me to get a job and quick. How do I know? The school/department gave every one of its graduates a postcard to mail back in once we got a job in our fields (key words here) - they wanted to know where we got the job. If that's not giving a sense of entitlement or some form of it, then I don't know what is then. Is it a justification? Yes and no. The graduates should know they are at the bottom of the totem pole, but at the same time, they think it should be easy to get a job with degree in hand because of how a school makes it sound.

Henning Makholm said...

Possibly it was a tactical error for you to start out with the "grunt work" item. That one can easily be misunderstood as "young people should know their place". And once you get that one wrong, it's going to color one's perceptions of the other advice.

It might have been safer to point out that all jobs contain work that, compared to the qualifications needed for that job in general, would count as "grunt work". That is true simply because in a real organization that responds to real-world demands and events, no job can have the same challenge level all the time. Either you'll be bored with the work some of the time or you'll almost always be in over your head and fail miserably.

(In contrast, while you're studying, if your teachers are good you'll be pushed just to the limits of your capabilities more or less all the time. Which is good because it lets you learn more, but not all are wise enough to see that this pattern cannot continue in a real job).

Rhonda said...

I just came upon this blog a few days ago. Loving the straight-forward advice and managerial perspective, it's now on my rss feed.

I hail primarily from the education background, but learned a "business head" from my father, and worked in business as a young adult. I have strong opinions on how people in workplaces should behave - both bosses and other workers. Your tips for young people/new hires are excellent.

Keeping the coffee brewing would always score points in my book. But your advice is right on.

Just because you're telling it like it is doesn't mean you're bitter. Or old.

Constace said...

As a 24 year old recent grad, I can attest, my age group doesn't get it! The advice you provide Alison is spot on. Your blog has really helped me navigate through this mess, known as my full time career. And it has kept me entertained at work. Shh, Don’t tell my boss.

It's people like the articles author who continually coddle my generation. It’s time for us to grow up and wake up!

Anonymous said...

By the way, where in the post does the author accuse you of being bitter? You actually put it in quotes, as though you were quoting her. I think you need to correct that.

Ask a Manager said...

You're right! She didn't use the word "bitter." I paraphrased. She wrote: "Green’s advice, coupled with her brief explanations, actually sound like the frustrations of an older employee, one who is annoyed by her younger colleagues banter with each other, who feels under-appreciated, and who feels like recent grads are plagued with a sense of entitlement. I’m not convinced her advice stems from a point of true concern for the incoming workforce or if it is from her own grievances."

Anonymous said...

Hmm. That's not paraphrasing. That's creating meaning. For attribution purposes and because I'm a stickler, it probably shouldn't be in quotes in your post. More like "In which I am accused of being older and annoyed." ;-)

Ask a Manager said...

Agreed. I removed the quotes.

JobFree said...

AMA gives good advice and people who work in the real world know this. If your only worry all day is who finished off the coffee, then you have an easy job, one that will probably be done by robots soon!

-Got that from despair

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling Alicia probably would find "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten" condescending, whereas I suspect it became a best seller because the old farts realize that common sense is really valuable and worth a good refresher.

I don't look at Alison's post and think "advice for millennials" -- I think its advice for recent grads that would have been relevant 20 years ago and will still be relevant in 20 years.

But I can understand the sensitivities...I'm sure many unrealistic expectations were set growing up in an era where parents were told to be positive and build self-esteem and kids were told that with the good job market and their tech savviness, they'd be wooed rather than working their way up. After that, what isn't going to seem a downer.

Rachel - former HR blogger said...

I'm 25 and agree completely with AAM on this one. Common sense is NOT always common.

I see many recent grads that think they're on top of the world. I love when they tell me their ridiculous salary expectations because "they do have a Bachelors degree." I feel like responding "That's nice, I have a Masters and I'm only making XXX."

When I was in college I saw people who should have been thrown out of college (and the colleges tried) get their degree. They didn't show a strong work ethic, they just did the minimum. So when you act all high and mighty because you have a degree, I just roll my eyes.

Anonymous said...

1. It was advice to new grads, not young people. FTR, *I* was a new grad when I was not very young, and could have used AAM's advice then.

2. I suspect that AAM wasn't even born yet when I was a new grad.

3. Which makes me REALLY old and REALLY bitter, apparently.

4. Maybe AAM could follow up with advice to people who have been in the workforce for a while. I'm sure we have our own set of annoying habits. Like predicting the weather with our rheumatism, and how we had to walk uphill through the snow for five miles both to and fro school. That kind of thing.

5. Anyone who leaves the coffee pot empty without making more should be shot. So that was very good advice that whippersnapper came up with and must not be discounted.

TheLabRat said...

Oh please. Like I said there, I see people my age (mid 30s) who need all of that "recent grad" advice more than many recent grads.

jp said...

This article, and all the follow-up posts made me laugh.

My advice? As exemplified by this article: Choose your battles carefully.