While I was in college, I did an internship working in the lab of a pharmaceutical company. It was a job unlike any I ever had before or since.
I was a gofer for the scientists who worked there. They were deftly studying anti-viral remedies in order to determine what drugs they wanted to perform animal trials on before moving to clinical trials on people.
It was an environment full of office politics and a bit of drama. One of the senior lab technicians I worked with yelled at me all the time. It was like he took pleasure in putting me down for every little mistake I made. And regaled in his authority to bark orders at me.
When I confronted him about it, he laughed at me.
"This is what you have to get used to in the professional world," he relayed. "You're on the low end of the totem pole. You have to prove yourself before you'll get any respect. You better get used to it! It was the same way for me."
I stifled my desire to argue with him. Instead, I appeased him, "you're right, I didn't know." And walked away.
That experience made me leery of working in the corporate world ever again. I disagreed that I had to be treated like a second-class citizen just because I was a young professional and less experienced.
This kind of behavior, speaking to or treating entry-level employees differently because that's what you experienced, is all too common.
I've heard loads of excuses for such behavior, "It made me stronger." "I needed to be put in my place, and so do you." "This is the way the real world works sweetie, you better get used to it."
Meanwhile, the walls of such offices are covered in posters encouraging cooperation, teamwork, and respect.
Does anyone else see the blatant disconnect here?
Just because you had to suffer mistreatment early on in your career doesn't mean those who are just starting out must experience that as well. It's fine if you want to believe those "tough love" lessons were good for you. But sometimes what's good for the goose is absolutely terrible for the gander.
What’s more, young professionals won’t stand for such double standards in the workplace anymore. They are emboldened to call BS and when it's not addressed will find another job.
As leaders and managers, it's important to step back and take stock of the past experiences you carry forward into your work. Everyone has encountered a bad manager, someone who does and says things that made you feel terrible and didn't seem to care.
Engaging in hurtful behavior because you believe 1) it's just the way things are or 2) being on the receiving end made you a better person is perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
While such behavior may have been the way things were, you have a choice about how things will be now and in the future.
Should you choose to embody such positive change, your first step involves healing from those past experiences where you were on the receiving end of toxic management practices.