Being the Eldest Person on Your Work Team

Many of us continue to work past the point
when society expects us to retire. Maybe we don’t feel ready to retire yet,
maybe we just need the money.

Whatever the reason, it inevitably means that
we are working with – and for – people who are younger than we are. Sometimes
considerably younger than we are.

They’re All So Young!

I can’t remember at what point I realised that
pretty much everyone I was dealing with in my life was younger than me. The
doctor, the dentist, the boss, even their boss, the bank manager – all those
people who used to be old!

I started a new job six months ago, after years of working from
home. The people I work with on a day-to-day basis are young enough to be my
kids – or even my grandkids.

It’s interesting, energizing, fun. But it can
also be difficult. Difficult to see younger people progressing ahead of you. Difficult
to see them getting opportunities that you didn’t get when you were their age.
Harder still to see them making the same mistakes that you made.

You Need a Long Memory

It’s easy to dismiss them as not having the
experience, not understanding how the world works. But I think it’s important that
we have a long memory – that we remember ourselves at 18, or 21, or 35, or 42,
and the pressures we were under –
and also what we were capable of.

Respect works both ways. They’re finding their
way in the world, just as we had to. Just as we still are.

Time to Learn

Let’s not always assume that the old way of
doing it (our way or doing it) was the best. The younger generations look at
how we did things and they can see the problems. And things change, the old
solutions don’t work anymore, or the new solutions are better. Time to move on.

There was a prime example at work the other
day. I was on the phone to our tech team, and I needed the serial numbers from
the printer. The printer is nowhere near the phone lines. I would have written
them down, but my colleague simply took a photo on his phone.

It was quicker. And with the photo on his
phone he could enlarge the image to make it clearer, he could send it to
someone, and he could save it for later (and know where he’d put it). Lesson

Young Boss

And spare a thought for the boss – in charge
of someone old enough to be their mother. Or older than their mother. Don’t
make life difficult for them just because they’re the boss and they’re young.

For whatever reason, you’re not the boss, and
they are – so get over it, and get on with it, and get on with them.

At the end of the day, they probably learned
from us, and we learned from them. And that’s what matters.

How do you feel when surrounded by people
younger than you? Do you allow yourself to feel isolated because of
agism-affected mindset? What would it take you to change the way you think
about and interact with younger people – at work or anywhere else? Please share
with our sisters!