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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

CAREER: Boss Doesn't Understand I Have A Life Outside of Work
Letter #: 403068
Category: Career

Original Letter

Is it "wrong" to not make myself available 24/7 at work? I put in for my new summer schedule which would've been every day in the morning for availability. Which is more far more time I would've been able to work than while I was in school. However, my manager had a problem with this and he asked me why I couldn't work afternoons. I told him morning shifts would work better in my favor and he asked if I had summer school, I said that I didn't, and his response was, "Well if you're not doing anything important all summer then why can't you be available all the time?" I had no idea how to respond. I don't believe my manager respects the younger generation like myself, I'm only twenty, as he seems to treat us all like we're idiots. Since he's transferred to our store numerous people have quit because of his attitude and choices, but he's our boss and I don't intend to quit just yet because he's a bit of an arse. 

Aside from all of this, I wanted to ask for help in responding to this situation. How can I help him understand that I have a life and other obligations outside of my part-time job? I don't intend to stay at this part-time job forever, but that doesn't mean I slack off. I work hard when I'm in and I come in if needed, but I would like to enjoy my life while I'm still able to before I jump into a full-time job after college. I know I'm a good employee, and I've been there for three years now. I am always on-call for when they need me, and we are currently hiring new employees who will be doing the exact same thing as me. Personally I do not see the problem with changing my schedule, and when got mad at me for not being available I even offered to change it to whenever they needed it, but he was still mad that I couldn't just always be open for every hour of the day. Sorry, but I do not want to waste my summer working eight hours every day seven days a week.

Elder Response

I have the greatest respect for you and your willingness and ability to get out there and earn a living and ALSO advance your education.   Grace, you can be sure that I don't call your life a life of slacking off !  Also, it is a good sign that your supervisor wants more of your time.  In a way this means you are a valued employee.   However, this appears to be a case of too much of a good thing.

If my understanding is correct, Grace, you agree to work certain hours and he (or the company) agree to those terms.  If they truly disagreed they would fire you.  Once they agree they complain and “get mad” and generally make your work environment unpleasant for you and others.

It never seems to go out of style for an older generation to self-righteously complain about the work habits and ethics of the younger generation.   Your letter, Grace, brings to mind that I was at a dinner a few weeks ago where a woman less than half my age was quite vocal in her displeasure with "these young employees today" and the difficulties she had making work schedules. 

Back to your current situation.  First, I agree that it is inappropriate for him to make value judgements on what you do with your time off work.   Second, scheduling must be done in a way that is well defined and equally applied to all employees in the same job and in compliance with your state laws and company policy.   You may not like it and he may not like it but it must be clearly defined in writing and equally applied. 

All that being said, consider having a new discussion with him.  Try to pick a time and place that is good for communication.  Maybe sitting down in a quiet place.  Try to start in a positive tone that acknowledges his feelings and situation.  For example, let him know that you understand it is difficult for him to run a business where the need for employees goes up and down rapidly.  Also, let him know you appreciate what you’ve learned and earned in your 3 years of employment.  Then let him know what you want.  If I understand correctly, you want mutually agreed hours that you will work.  For example, on average x hours per day on x days of the week and these parts of the day.  Try to keep it simple.  Perhaps most important, you want him to agree to these hours at the beginning of the week or month and not harass you thereafter!!  Tell him nicely that your free time is private and not his business.  Even if you play games or watch TV..it is not his business!  And….  you consider it a form of harassment* if he continues to comment on your private life or make you guilty for not working more hours.  Finish on a positive note telling him that you understand his difficulties.

I suggest you avoid discussions related to your “life style” other than you will work certain hours and you don’t owe him a defense of your choices.  You might keep in mind that he may be sub-consciously jealous of you.  After all, with a few years more of education you may have a higher status and higher pay job than he has.  He may not be paid all that much and may have a mortgage, car payments and other expenses and demands on his life.   However, this does not make it wise or right for him to harass you and other employees.

Grace, I wish you the best of luck in your education and work.  I did a lot of different jobs to pay my way through school.  I met a lot of people and supervisors that way…some happy, some not, some capable, some just getting by.  I think you will learn valuable lessons from your experiences and have the pride that you worked your way into a productive adult life.

*I’m not talking about legal definitions of harassment!!

Best Regards,

Wise-Old-Grandpa


    

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