Seniority plus Age = Not Being Held Accountable?

Updated on April 27, 2012
J.M. asks from Doylestown, PA
11 answers

I was J. wondering if anyone else had this issue at their workplace? Here we have employees that have been here for 30+ years and would be considered past retirement age. I say good for them if they can keep working and need to and are willing to keep learning and changing...BUT they make my life so hard! Their boss has been around forever too and holds them accountable for nothing! She gets upset if we (the accountants who verify their work and our bosses) try and make them learn anything new (we've hosted excel classes for them, intro to computers- and they didn't show and their boss said nothing) They do everything on paper, and in the accounting world that means ALOT is missed affecting customers accounts. I J. dont get how seniority = not having to be accountable for your mistakes. Grrr I was so happy until I got here and realized I have to do weeks of work to go back and track all of their mistakes, include back up and bring it to them to fix, because god forbid I J. hand the papers to them and have them research their own work and say "please research these when you get a chance I know a lot were missed and I'd love to help and fix the errors" I've tried that to have them yell at M. to do it myself witgh a few extra not so nice things, to which I explained it wasn't my job and it would be a conflict of interest if I not only made all of the entries but reconciled the account, only to have their boss yell at my boss saying I wasn't nice (big overstatement, I am so timid with these older women it's crazy- i hate confrontation in real life)
Anyway has anyone had similar issues in the workplace with certain people regardless of age decide they have seniority so they do not need to learn and grow and aren't accoutable for their job? There are janitors here who have asked to be included on the next excel classes, I wish we could train them and have them replace the people unwilling to learn...even if we gave the older women a cush easy job, it would help so much!!
I agree with they deserve respect0 but what about all of the people paying on their accounts that really don't need to because insurance covered it, but they never applied it because they cant track it on paper?

We never tried to make it hard- we set up spreadsheets where they J. typed in numbers we keyed all formulas, and locked them so they couldnt delete by accident. i agree they shouldn't have to change completely but computers have been around for a while, paper isn't safe anymore- it costs more and more likely to be messed up or lost
I don';t think they should be fired- but i think put in a cushy job for the rest of their career and not do the one theyre doing
Also I know plenty ofolder people willing to learnm there is one in their department, seniority doesnt equal not doing your work to M.

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So What Happened?

oops i forgot to add- their department is seperate from mine- i J. reconcile the cash accounts- so I don't have to pay my dues with them---if i do their work and mine from an auditors standpoint its a conflict

Featured Answers


answers from Austin on

Nope. Sorry no support for you on this one (from M.). They have earned the right and paved/paid the way for you young folk who rarely say thanks or who have a sense of entitlement.

In fact, I am more irritated when the boss is young enough to be my child and has no respect for their elders' experience in the workplace.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

I have worked in a state institution for many years and yeah, there is LOTS of that going around. Sometimes the antiquated methods are even dictated down from other higher level offices and not a result of simple refusal to adapt on the employees part... though there is plenty of that too.

How did I deal with it? I knew my place. That was J. it. I was hired to do the work I did and part of that work included dealing with these antiquated systems and cleaning up after other employees (quality control).
You were hired to clean up after and check on other employees work. That's your job.
You and others have brought up your concerns and suggestions to solve the issues and were not supported by management, or managers would have made their staff show up at your workshops.
You will be much happier if you stop trying to fight windmills.
And last but not least, if this is too stressful or frustrating for you then find something else - I eventually did (not only for this reason but it was a contributing factor).

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answers from Sacramento on

J. part of working your way up in the company. I've had superiors with wild proposals that get approved and have had to waste time trying to implement ideas that never amount to anything. Running in circles. I did it because it was what was expected. I was the one working 60+ hour work weeks while senior staff headed home.

It's J. part of paying your dues. When you're at the more senior level, you won't want to invest time in training, either. No doubt, they've already spent hundreds of hours of their lives in training already as they worked their way up in the company.

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answers from Dallas on

I guess I'm sort of in between on this one. I have been in that situation for sure, and I'm of the mind-set that people who are older and have earned their seniority do deserve some slack. I don't think that a 70-year-old woman who has been there for 30 years should have to learn completely new ways of doing things, as long as they are being productive, and the company has room for someone else to take up their slack. In a faster-paced environment there may be no room for such things. My mother taught M. to always respect older people, and I do, even when it's annoying and it's not in my job description. How would you feel if a generation of people young enough to be your kids came in and told you you were doing it wrong? Doesn't seem fair to M.. So I give them every right-of-way that is in my power to do so.

That siad, I can understand and sympathize with your vent. Especially when you're the one taking up their slack, I can imagine it would be irritating.

Have a great day!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

If I'm interpreting your question correctly, you want to know if it's somehow wrong for an employee to be held accountable for their work/job duties, even if that particular employee has been there for many years.

In a nutshell, no. ALL employees, regardless of age or seniority, needs to be held accountable for their job duties. No matter how long you have been employed somewhere, or how old you are, you are being paid to do a job, and you should do it in the manner that is correct and necessary for others to do their jobs, if applicable.

Long-term employees often get comfortable, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when comfort=refusal to learn/adapt, then it becomes a problem.

I think a few responders are viewing your question as an age vs. youth issue, and it's not. It's unfair to say that J. because someone has worked somewhere for 20+ years they should be able to do things however they want, and the newer employees should be grateful to have their jobs and should J. shut up and cover for them.

In your case, it sounds as though this is a numbers/monetary concern, not J. a "I would rather hand write the report than type it" or "I don't read my email, can you J. call and tell M. about it" problem. In this instance, I would document, document, document. If your boss is on board with these concerns, maybe this will be a way for he/she to show how detrimental the lack of adapting/adjusting is to the overall goal of the business, particularly if an audit would result in fines or other sanctions because of the lack of checks and balances.

One more thing....this type of behavior/attitude is not always seen in J. older or the most senior employees. There are many people who have been somewhere for most of their working life but are still relatively young who refuse to do things in a new, more productive or traceable way. I'm not in management or at the executive level, but my mom is, and I often hear from her how difficult people of all ages and employment levels can be when they need to learn a different way of doing things or to change the way an activity is done. Change is hard, but when it comes to your professional life, you need to do it, whether you are 25 or 65, have been employed for 30 days or 30 years.

Age and seniority do not give you a free pass to collect a paycheck without doing the work that your position requires you to do. Perhaps the way you've always done it isn't necessarily wrong, but it's no longer the acceptable practice. Things change, we all need to adjust.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would say stop rescuing them and allow them to turn their papers in incorrect. If the owners are not seeing how bad it is all they see is good work turned in a job well done. Stop saving them from themselves.

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answers from Houston on

Yes. Par for the course in my experience.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

It would seem like they should have to keep up with technologies, I am expected to in sales.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It's called "retired in place" around here if they do nothing.

One of the things you can do as an employee who needs them to do work is to 1. discuss this with your boss. "Boss, I'm having a difficult time with x because I need y report from ABC Department." Or "Boss, I've set up x spreadsheet for y data, but I find that the spreadsheet isn't being filled in properly. I'm at a loss but I feel that it needs to be corrected because people are paying improper fees on accounts due to this data not being automated and the auditors could nail us for it."

You can also J. do your job and make your concerns known and keep notes to cover your own butt. When I had a job where I was a contractor and technically not supposed to access the POs but couldn't do my job when the corporate guy wouldn't do it, I got my manager's permission and was super, super, super careful and documented everything so that if it came back on us, it was all there. The problem with that guy was that he was untouchable. We're pretty sure he ran a side business out of the office. Our corporate manager didn't want to talk to him because he was union and his technical manager (who rarely saw him since he worked in our office) didn't want to talk to him because he filed EEO complaints at the drop of a hat. So documentation it was and then I got the heck out when the contract changed hands.

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answers from St. Louis on

M, meet my boss! :p There are people in this office older than her that have learned all new technology, not her.

I am wonder how high the stack of papers she thinks I am going to file will get before she gets the point I won't. She completely relies on my spreadsheets and data but for some reason wants paper back up. Not happening, I J. don't have the time. Okayyyy I have the time, I don't have the want or desire. That and I love trees, why must she hurt the trees?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If management is backing the old duffers there is nothing you can do but accept it.
When my old company modernized their systems, they fired entire departments and off-shored the jobs.
No training.
No hand holding.
No arguments.
No disciplinary action or dealing with HR.
Problem solved as far as management was concerned.

1 mom found this helpful
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