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Group Therapy Work Etiquette

I just transferred with my company from Las Vegas to Chicago (big change) with a promotion. I'm 21 years old and accepted an Assistant Manager position. I manage a group of people who are all significantly older than me. It's hard for me to get respect. There is one person in particular who thinks he is literally God's gift. Not only does he continue on with religious tirades, he also outwardly makes fun of my post baby weight, age, and height, and occasionally my nationality. These are very sensitive things to me, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone else.
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Some people tell me to ignore it and that he doesn't mean anything by it.
I'm embarrassed and it reminds me of how my parent's friends use to pick on
me and no one stood up for me. It's frustrating, because I think people will only see my age when I speak up instead of an adult with feelings. I want to remain professional as well as save face. I haven't cried yet, but I want to. It's lonely being in a new place and I don't want to break down in front of my co-workers. Can you give me advice on how I should deal with this situation without making a scene, involving HR, all the while saving face?

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wetone1962 wetone1962 6 years
Well for one thing, did you ever think it might be humiliating to them because your 21 and in charge of them? Most of these people probably have been doing this job since you were in diapers, or way before you were born, and now you’re their boss. Think of it in their point of view. I got this in the military too. Think about it, you come out of High School, into college, and then become their boss. You have no concept because you did not grow the same way as them, at the bottom. They worked hard to get where they are today. Why do you think most military men don’t like 1st lieutenants? Some were even shot in Vietnam. Because they may have all this book knowledge but they don’t know what it is to be who they are. I'm sorry but you are way to young to be in charge of anyone. When I was your age I was digging ditches, cleaning out trash in bad water in a storm shelter. You basically have never got your hands dirty. I can say right off, you are not adult enough to deal with it yet. Also go watch some 20 year old boss at a fast food restaurants picking on retired older men and woman, that worked all their lives getting some where in life. Only to have to try to make ends meet because there retirement benefits don’t cover enough. How do you think they feel? I get it all the time, I was laid off along time ago and ended up working for temporary services. I know the jobs been there done that, but I’m not good enough to even pack a box.
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 9 years
HR all the way. Harassment is harassment no matter what age you are. Your workplace is bound to have a harassment policy - most are zero tolerance. You have an obligation as a manager to set an example for your employees, and accepting or ignoring unacceptable behavior is not setting a good example, and could come back to bite you if you don't confront it.
SparkleSugar SparkleSugar 9 years
I don't know if you have a mentor or someone you can talk to in the office (someone who hired you?), but they might be able to give you good advice specific to how things work in your organization. Andaman, I completely agree about the importance of backing things up!!!
andaman andaman 9 years
Bonne i think she should definately keep a record of all the incidents though! It's vital. I can't stress it enough. It's her back up. It should include date, time, what was said, who were there. She then should give HR the copy of it.
Bonne Bonne 9 years
Follow your HR procedures. At my office, we try to talk to the offending person first and then go to HR. Talk to him in your office. Start with something that states that you appreciate his tenure with the organization, but his remarks a persons look or religion is will not be acceptable. Refresh him on the current HR guidelines, the next steps if he continues with this attitude and thank him for stopping by. Next, go to HR and let him know that you have talked with him, so when you talk to him again - they will know that this has been going on for a longer basis.
andaman andaman 9 years
One more thing I want to say about work politics. When you are the new kid in the block (in your case) don't expect your co -workers to stand up for you. Be honest, why should they? They have bills to pay, they also want to get on with everyone, some of them don't want to take side.They don't know you why should they care? You are also young. They probably think you have a lot to learn. I know it's horrible but that's life. Which is why i think involving HR isn't a bad idea. They would tell you to keep a record I'm sure (as it happened to me once). And if they don't tell you that, you should keep a diary. Show it to them. You have the right to feel happy at work. Don't feel like you are going behind someone's back. That's what HR is there for. It's there to protect you. I think someone will have a word with him quietly and he will stop. He will probably apologise to you. It doesn't mean he will be asked to leave work.
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 9 years
First of all congratulations on the career position you have attained at such a young age, that's impressive! I agree with the other comments that this guy is jealous and resentful that you are in a superior position to him. I really feel for you, having to deal with this day after day! I think you should dress really professionally, act very mature and professional and take your complaints in writing to HR. It is there responsibility to look after things like this and you shouldn't have to talk to the perpetrator on your own! If you go right to him it could make things worse, he'll know he really got to you, and that's his goal in the first place! You say others don't mind his behaviour but I can guarantee he most likely makes them uncomfortable too! Some of the stuff he has been getting away with is actually illegal and I'm sure HR will try to get things resolved if only to stop you from suing the company for workplace harassment. Good luck and stay strong, remember you EARNED this position, and no one can take away from your education and skills!
angelbaby2 angelbaby2 9 years
what he is saying to you is illegal. Go to HR and have a talk with him. You are his boss. good luck
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I'm sure this guy feels resentful that someone younger and smarter than him is already at a higher position. But too bad for him! I can't believe the type of stuff he is saying to you. Awful. I might go to HR with a formal complaint, detailing statements etc. so they have it on record. Then I would tell them that you would like a week to deal with it yourself before they contact him. I'm not sure if that's possible but if it is, that would give you a chance to tell him to cut it out. This way you'll be protected by going to HR first so they have the documents, and you can also get a chance to try to handle it on your own first. Good luck!
SparkleSugar SparkleSugar 9 years
Yeah, I second lickity-split. Definitely keep notes and things in writing!!!
SparkleSugar SparkleSugar 9 years
It's definitely tough being in the situation of having to manage people who are older than you (and who have been in the organization longer)... But I agree with the above advice. Call him into your office and have a discussion with him. You don't have to be confrontational or aggressive, but let him know that his behaviour is unacceptable. Last week I had to have my first 'discussion' with an employee... It's nerve wracking, but a necessary part of the job.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
if you don't follow the company guidelines now you really can't rely on them later. he should be written up, your regional magager needs to be made aware of this so they can help you with the wording, and he needs to be put on notice that his behavior is unacceptable. the procedures are in place FOR YOUR BENEFIT. if you don't use the protections you have the staff will learn that you are eaisly picked upon and intimitated and you will lose any sense of authority you had. unpleasant but necessary. start the process today and help youself.
This sucks! It's hard being a young SUCCESSFUL professional. I agree with crispet1- I would pull him aside and speak with him before going to HR. He needs to not only understand that what he is doing is wrong and hurtful, but that you are in fact his manager. I used to break out in hives even considering doing something like that (ok- still do), but I got through it and am a much more profesional person because if it. A little story to cheer you up- I was working on a job and noticed that the caprt was being installed completely wrong (I am and interior designer). I brought it up to the contractor and he fought me on it. I stuck to my guns and he- in font of me- called the carpet installers and told them to bring over their plans because THE KID was telling him it was wrong. Well the kid was right and he ended up looking like a first class chump :D Good luck!
Maggie-Mae Maggie-Mae 9 years
Sorry you are dealing with this- I too have to supervise people who are older than me and it can be a challenge. The best thing to do is to act professional no matter how others act. I agree tha you should also talk to any offenders one and one, tell (or ask) what the problem is, and then say that if it remains a problem you will talk to HR. In a previous position I waited too long to talk to HR about an unprof co-worker and I ended up leaving the company because of it. At the end of my exit interview, HR said I should have come to them much sooner than I did. No one likes to "snitch" on a coworker, but you need to rely on HR as that is what they are there for. Wishing the best for you!
crispet1 crispet1 9 years
Im so sorry this guy is giving you a hard time. I suggest pulling him aside and speaking with him. Dont even wait until he makes a rude remark again. Do it when you are comfortable enough to confront him. With an even but assertive tone, let him know what he is doing is wrong, unprofessional, and hurtful. If you feel it is necessary, let him know if he continues to do this, you will inform HR. Good luck!
andaman andaman 9 years
You don't want to involve HR but nobody can help you except HR! Especially if he think he is superior than you. He's been there longer than you also. He must think he has the right to bully you. Sometimes involving HR isn't a bad thing. Don't feel bad about it.
andaman andaman 9 years
I think you should make a formal complaint to your head office. It's an internal thing so not everybody in the office will know about it. Do it before it gets out of hand. Why should you suffer from his tasteless humour? Especially if it's to do with your nationality (you know the formal term for it would be racism). Don't bother telling anyone at work about this. Do it quietly and someone will have a quiet word with him.

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