Today’s letter originated on Ask a Manager:
I’ve got an issue with my manager that I’m not sure how to address. My manager and I are friends on Facebook (she added me, and not the other way around). Normally, I wouldn’t have accepted, but it’s, unfortunately, a cultural norm around this company that everyone, across several layers of management, is friends on Facebook, so I went along with it.
My boss occasionally makes comments about millennials or shares links to articles and videos about “millennials in the workplace.” The comments and links are mostly very condescending, along the lines of “millennials are entitled special snowflakes,” “millennials don’t work very hard and then immediately expect promotions,” and “millennials are obsessed with social media and have no social skills.” It doesn’t help that Boss has accidentally made comments in the past about how young I am, and therefore how inexperienced I am. There’s about a 15-to-20-year age gap between us.
I haven’t had any feedback from managers about displaying those sorts of “typical millennial” things in any position I’ve held. To be honest, I don’t think those characteristics are typical of any specific generation, but that’s not what I’m looking to get into here.
It’s possible (and I’m sure it’s likely) that this is unintentional, and she doesn’t realize that I can see these things or that I’d find them offensive. I just can’t shake the feeling, though, that she doesn’t respect me because of my youth, and that posting things like that where direct reports and coworkers could see it is a marker of really bad judgment.
I have blocked my boss’s posts from now on, so I can put it out of my mind as much as possible, but I’m wondering how/if I should address this directly with my boss or with HR. Any thoughts?
There there young thing, you deserve a boss who friends you on Facebook without having personal feelings of her own. The poor super old gal is out of touch, her generation is irrelevant, and all she has left is sighs of confirmation bias on social media.
Do you really expect someone that old to understand Facebook? Of course you do. Your expectations naturally will be debilitatingly high if you were born between 1982 and 2004. That job should be yours! Unblock her posts and stop hiding from the truth. You’re right, she doesn’t respect you because your youth and good judgment threaten her authority.
The kind thing to do is to post articles about other terrible generations. Your quest to find such writing will be difficult for you as a millennial. Words not directly about you are invisible to your generation.
You may have to settle for posting fake articles claiming there are good qualities of young millennials. Here’s my listicle: (1) Nice to look at thanks to filters and selfies. (2) Fun at me-parties they throw for themselves. (3) All are rich with startup and blog money.
You cannot and will not talk directly to Boss about this pattern. Your brain can insist on healthy imaginary conversations instead. Often ghost conversations happen in the shower as you wash skin that you don’t even appreciate. After all we did for you. Picture yourself finally ripping off your Scooby Doo mask and revealing to your boss that … You were a millennial all along! You would have gotten aware from it if it wasn’t for those darn Mark Zuckerbergs.
Bring in your participation trophies. Use them to decorate your desk and office space. This will prove to your boss that you’re able to show up and receive what you rightfully deserve for doing so. The certificates of existence naturally will come up. Perfect timing to brag at how your generation forced your adult parents to reward you for being you when you could barely talk. Your ability to make your parents obsess about their child’s self-esteem from a young age demonstrates that you’re a self-starter.
In your next performance review, mention many of your other millennial accomplishments. You were not kidnapped as a child. Or if you were, you survived. You went to school. You did the chores that you were supposed to. Your 16th birthday party celebration cost more than your boss’s yearly salary. As a consolation, type up a participation certificate with your boss’s name including the text “Showed Up To Work!!!” and decorated with gold stickers.
Very subtly reference posts Boss has made on Facebook that might be uncomfortable at work. Two can play the discomfort game. As a millennial, you have the edge. Pander to things old people like such as crocheting, CBS, and sitting. Sample script includes things like “I know you’re tired from walking miles in the snow before they had school buses.” You can train her in modern inventions such as color television and Grindr. Be patient, at her age she won’t understand this witchcraft very easily.
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