Need Perspective on Seniority

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  1. I've been at my company for several years (it will be 6 years in May). In that time I fought through the trenches and was promoted twice. I'm in a good situation and my team recently hired someone (white male, 50s) who is in the same role as I am, same title. New guy comes with a relevant skill set but is entirely new to this field. Early on, in meetings, our team lead would say things like "sorry but LnA technically has seniority here". Team lead is the same age as new guy and they've become friends. It boggled my mind that he would say something like that to him a few weeks into the job when I've been here for years.

    Now 6 months in, new guy is introduced before me in meetings, cc'd before me on all emails, and even our assistant sends all correspondence in the order of Team Lead, New Guy, LnA. It sounds trivial written down but it's a subtle ding to me. I am almost 20 years younger than new guy (doesn't help that I also look really young for my age) and am Asian. This has no bearing on my work product but it's apparent that colleagues/clients automatically view new guy as senior to me. To be clear, this does not threaten my job security and I have no issues with him directly. He does nothing to try to one up me or appear more senior in any way.

    I've been trying to let this go but it bothers me every time I'm on a call or get an email. I can't help but feel that if I was older or male this would not have happened. I almost told my assistant a few times but hesitated as it might come across the wrong way. Plus, I feel if I haven't done anything to create this situation I can't change people's perceptions at this point. Should I just chalk it up to sucky workplace bias in the US?
     
  2. Totally get your frustration, but you already called it. Nothing you can do. Its not just US, it's society in general. Keep doing what you do well and don't sweat it. Always support your fellow sisters. It's the only way to pave the way for change.
     
  3. #3 Apr 14, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
    I can totally relate to you OP. But in my situation it was kind of the opposite; a younger woman was hired not as a supervisor but after only a year was promoted to my same position even after I got it after 7 years at my job. But I never strived for the position because it's super stressful, her on the other hand was always talking to our manager about it. So she finally got what she wanted, and she even got employee of the quarter in the start of her new position. I never complained because she's really nice and helpful, and at the start whenever she would ask for help because she's still new to the policies and her skills aren't yet that polished I would gladly help her. Then now she's maybe a year into the position and she's still asking for help all the time, asking questions in front of other staff so if she makes a mistake she could share the blame with me. We're both Asians but she's maybe less than a decade younger. But she's born in America and english is her first language while I'm not although I can speak english fairly well, it's not my first language. So I feel like she can assert herself better in front of our manager and staff because of her mastery of the language. And I know we're both intelligent women, but since I have 5-6 years more experience than her, I believe my skills are better than hers, and I feel like I'm always babysitting her when I work with her. And I never got employee of the quarter award! And I work just as hard or even harder (because I have to save her butt at times)! But lately I feel like our manager and staff are realizing that maybe she's just all talk, and they're looking back to me or others with more experience than her. So my point is, (sorry for the long rant) just keep doing what you've been doing and I'm pretty sure the novelty of the new guy will eventually wear off and people will go back to looking at you guys as equals.
     

  4. It makes me sad that workplace bias (and while we're at it, racism, sexism, ageism...etc.) is rampant despite so many great advances in the world. Anyway, yeah I agree there's not much I can do except set an example by how I treat others. And throw a mini venting tantrum once in awhile. Hehe.
     

  5. Yikes that sounds like a frustrating situation to be in. Can you ease into refusing when she asks for help? Especially if she seemingly does it to share in any blame.
    Re my situation, yeah it bugs me but it'd be a bigger problem if new guy hindered my work in any way. Thankful for that (silver lining...)
     
  6. Me and the my other colleagues are actually gradually letting her take the reins and be responsible for her own actions. And the staff is learning that if I or the others are available, they'd go to us first than to her. At least your new guy can stand on his own; mine is ridiculously dependent on others that I don't think anybody believes her capable anymore. And boohoo for her, our manager who sings her praises had transferred to another state! So she really doesn't have a backer anymore.

    Maybe if she was stepping on my toes I would have said something to management, but since she's sickeningly sweet all the time I just let our work do the talk. That way I didn't look like a jealous b*tch.
     
    SultanOfJohor likes this.
  7. I can relate, but am in a different situation. I have over a decade worth of experience, was promoted from entry-level to lead in the span of a few years, and earned a Masters quite some time ago, but look young as well. I recently started a new position and people treat me like I'm an intern. I do my best to disregard it and rant to my SO periodically if it gets bad, but it's hard not to want to scream periodically.
     
  8. sometimes people will move ahead of you not b/c they have more experience or age, but b/c they have more people-skills. moving up isn't really about years in a field or years in a job - although it can also be that - it is often who has the personality to lead and manage and motivate others. while working at any job, don't forget it's not just the job skills and experience that matter, but your personality and how well you network with and can manage and socialize with others. often people with 20+ years in a job can never get any higher because they aren't people-people:smile: and someone with limited years in the field (but a more dynamic personality) will come in and be the supervisor.
     
  9. agreed, and it's frustrating whether you're a bystander or when it's happening to you. plenty of ppl who move up because of who they know, or even more common, what they promise to deliver, but it's all talk.

    best case scenario are those that are deserving because of the work they deliver, well respected and are great at managing upward and their 'image'. I also think there's also that unknown factor called luck.

    worst case is when someone doesn't do their work, doesn't do it well, or worse, takes credit of others' and then talks in every meeting as he is the SME, and the perception is that he deserves the promotion.

    then there are those that are at the same level for many years b/c they don't want the added responsibility, or the extra scrutiny and higher expectation when you move up. It's a paycheck and/or they want to do their work and not have the stress of managing/leading.
     
  10. agreed.

    i witnessed this young female at work got promoted quickly. not that she's very knowledgable but bc she's got the personality and she's capable (from what i heard...never worked w her)....
     
  11. Great post and very true!
    OP, with this in mind, you seem like a decent, honest, hardworking person. To shore up your position and how you are perceived, you might try to amp up your visibility a little extra right now through how you interact, how helpful you can be and by contributing just that extra 10%. A little sparkle seems to go a long way. It doesn't mean you need to be underhanded or overbearing, just extra dynamic to get the edge and remind your associates who you were before the new guy showed up and who you still are!

    I work with a lot of 50something males in a male dominated industry so I have to fight that battle a lot too. Sometimes being petite, youthful and female causes people to think I am incompetent or easily walked over. But I have found that my youthful appearance can actually help me instead of hindering me when combined with extra dynamism, productivity and competency to shore it up. People will go from underestimating you to finding you extremely impressive.
     
  12. This is similar to what I was thinking. You can make yourself more visible, be the "go to" person, be approachable, maybe even be welcoming to the new guy and he may be supportive of you as well. Complaining is not likely to go over well. Look for opportunities to make yourself more visible and valuable - others will notice. Energy goes a lot farther than actual accomplishments.

    I don't know if you said it, but if language is an issue, work on that. I find it easy to forget people's ethnicities, age, anything, when they become an awesome oral communicator. If this is an issue, you might consider some sort of speech club outside of work that will keep your speaking skills finely tuned and make speaking a strength and talent and something you want to do more of.
     
  13. #13 Apr 18, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
    All really good points here, thanks for taking the time to respond everyone! I completely agree that personality and energy output go a long way in creating visibility and less opportunity for being stepped over. My lament was in the fact that new guy was, well, NEW yet people automatically gave him this pedestal before he did anything to prove it or otherwise. I get that I may need to work that much harder being a short Asian female in my 30s but it's a sad reality having to go more above and beyond simply because new guy is a tall white male in his 50s and not because of his skills. Kwim?

    Edited to add that I've been more than welcoming and collaborative with new guy and we get along well. I don't complain about this or really anything to anyone at work (that's what this forum is for! Ha). As I said in my original post, I have no issues with him, just with the general reception of him in light of my position. He's doing well but if it matters and while we're kinda comparing, the level of success I reached my first year (translated into revenue) is approx 4x his first year. Sorry if that sounds obnoxious, my point is I'm not some passive wallflower that sits in the corner.

    But like someone said early on, I answered my own question - it's unconscious bias and if I wanna stay in the game I have to go that extra mile each time. Maybe all the time I suppose.
     
  14. OP, FWIW, I don't think it's ever "fair" in any company, as hard as they may try to make it fair. I think it's more about how well you play the game.

    The guy may be getting special treatment because they may really want him to stay. You never know how he may have approached the job offer and what other offers he may have considered. They may have big plans for him based on his past experience. He may be capable of much more than he has been able to show so far in the first job.

    If the revenue numbers are important to your department, then they will show up in your performance reviews and matter. If they are soft numbers, they may not be a priority in how you are treated. If you are in sales, they should definitely matter.

    I would try not to take this personally. I also would not try to play the ethnicity or gender card if you can avoid it. You can become a big presence regardless of that. It may not be fair at all. However if there is something specific you need from your employer, I would ask for it, be it more recognition, a raise, different clients, more responsibility, etc. I would not ask for something soft like top billing in an email - I would ask for something more tangible. If you want to. That's another discussion.

    If you feel gender and/or ethnicity is an obstacle, I would look for resources outside of work to help you develop the presence to put those perceptions to rest. You may have to step out of your comfort zone.
     
  15. I swore I could have written the question my self.

    Once the situation in my experience had gotten so bad, I was ignored in the meeting while those white dudes talk a bunch of nothings; while I was the one who truly was doing all the work.

    Focus on your KPI.

    What's your goal ? If you are competing with him unto a partnership track; then we have a potential issue. If not, just laugh it off. I know it sucks. Very, utterly, demoralising. You have to make your self indispensable to your job. Dress more formally. Carry your self as if you are playing the role of a Mighty Queen in the workplace. if possible, dress "older", if you know what I mean. Talk as if everything you said, write, will be printed in the cover of TNT or WSJ or Harvard Law Review or Vogue, etc.