Welcome to the 21st Century Colleague

Happy Wednesday subscribers, new readers and loyal lurkers!  Managing to survive the week until Wednesday can sometimes feel like a big accomplishment when things are hectic and I’m here to say: “congratulations you made it!”  If you’re like me then you’re still a bit discombobulated after last week’s holiday being on Wednesday.  It’s a little strange having two Monday’s and two Friday’s in one work week when it’s been so long since I worked that kind of schedule.  Work resumes to normal this week and I’m sure we’re all back in the swing of things.

I hit the ground running Monday and within a few hours had an epiphany within the workplace.  Despite working at many places with many ages of people I didn’t realize until just two days ago how much age impacts the way one perceives their co-workers.  Although the way we were raised does play a huge part in how we interact with others, it dawned on me that the time period we’ve each grown up in plays a part in our interactions as well.  Think of your elders that might have grown up during the depression.  It’s not uncommon for people who grew up during the great depression to have trouble letting go of items even though they have no use for them now and don’t know if they ever will.  The era they were raised in has impacted their way of thinking.

Today’s example is based on an older colleague who works within the same property as me, but works for another area that I team together with frequently.  Although on the work ladder we would be considered laterally equal I try to be respectful to the fact that he is indeed older than me and therefore probably has more years of experience.  However, there seems to be a different level of respect returned to me.  I believe in his mind he actually believes that when we do team together I work FOR him and not WITH him.  I say this due to his constant requests for me to get things for him, find people for him, and do projects for him.

I could be crazy, but I think he doesn’t seem to be aware that I am not his administrative assistant when I work with him.  For most other people I would gladly run back to their office to retrieve the keys they left on their desk when they ask nicely, but when he tells me to go get his keys it tends to make my eye twitch just a bit.  Maybe it’s because I was raised to understand that we’re all equal…well, unless we’re not within the chain of employment ranks.  In this instance we are most definitely equal in employment level.  We are not equal in gender or age but truly that shouldn’t matter.  If he politely asked me to do all these things for him I know I would feel differently about it as I gladly help out others in this same way.

I thought it was just me until I realized that he treats his actual administrative assistant even worse.  She is incredibly smart, sharp as a tack and efficiently tackling each piece of her job with a smile on her face.  However, I feel like every demand he makes of her should end with him patting her on the head.  I know he grew up in a different time period where he was taught that there was a certain way to speak to different types of people, but I feel like it’s time that he get a crash course in the way things work here in 2012.  The work place is a very different place then it used to be and unfortunately he hasn’t progressed with time.

Think about the way you speak to your fellow co-workers.  Are you appropriate and respectable in your approach or do you need to update your ways to stay current?  Take a look at your colleagues and see if you can learn, either good tips or things to avoid, from the way they interact with others.

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Filed under Female Management Skills

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