When I first began my business career, I rarely thought about what it might be like for me and where I would be working when I was 40 or older. I was so focused on what was directly in front of me, it was difficult to think too far ahead.
I knew I wanted to advance, but I did not have a vision for exactly what that meant. In speaking with many of today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings, I realized they have a better sense of having plotted out where they are headed. Of course, this is not always the case.
In the last 20 years, society has put enormous pressure on younger people to know from an early age what they want to be doing in their careers. This is incredibly unfair and unrealistic. The decade immediately following college should be a time to explore various career options, travel, and obtain a better sense of your skill set as well as what you like and do not like to do.
By the time you reach your 30s, you have generally settled into an industry which you may or may not be satisfied with. You have also, by this time, hopefully have had an opportunity to work with people who are a variety of ages.
Unfortunately, if you are in the technology industry, you will not see too many people past the age of 50. Over 50, most are either a “C” level executive, or on the software development, testing, and customer support side of the business. Perhaps in non-technology industries you will have an opportunity to work with more mature colleagues. There is much to learn from them.
What most people do not realize is how valuable employees with years of experience are, or how to fully tap into their potential. Our society has done a decent job of on-boarding new and younger employees. Where society has failed is knowing how best to leverage the talent of the workforce over 50. Or 60. Or 70.
Last week, I had an opportunity to witness an incredible team effort. The average age of the people working together was around 70. All of them were women. They worked for well over a month making homemade holiday gifts to be sold at a community fair. The proceeds were being donated to both the local school system, as well as the village church and community hall where the event was to take place.
When I walked in on the morning of the holiday event, where all of the incredible handmade items were on display, I felt as if I had been transported to a different and magical world. The sheer beauty of the handmade items was stunning. They were a testament to a team of people working together who had donated their skills and time.
Could a group of people who were younger have accomplished the same thing this group of women in their 70s, 80s and 90s did? Sure! Age should not be a limitation in either the workplace or in life if someone is determined to participate.
However, due to age discrimination, and this happens to younger people, too, many of our more mature workers are forced out of the work place. This is such a shame.
Here are ten reasons for why older workers rock, along with the benefits of being a more mature worker.
- Understanding what has been done in the past can be incredibly helpful in directing what the priorities should be. Mature employees have experience with knowing what has worked, and what has not. Knowing what not to focus on because it will waste time is an enormously valuable skill.
- Time is our most precious commodity. Due to experience, most mature workers have become exceptionally good at managing their time, and know how to maximize accomplishing goals with a more disciplined approach.
- Mature workers, in general, tend to be dependable, and have built up a work ethic which is both commendable, and the type of mindset and behavior that is great modeling for younger generations.
- Having experienced a number of failures already in their life, as people mature, they can be much less afraid of making mistakes and taking risks, contrary to other thinking.
- Communication skills generally improve over time, and because of this, mature workers do a better job of being able to articulate information relating to the work they are doing, the challenges they are experiencing, or interacting with customers who can sometimes be difficult to deal with.
- Focusing on tasks or on developing a longer-range strategy becomes much easier to accomplish as you mature. You tend to take more of a longer-term perspective when taking strategy into account, and this is very valuable.
- Knowing how to handle more interactions with both people and situations is something gained from being exposed to a variety of scenarios over one’s career.
- Having the ability to be retrospective on most matters can be quite beneficial in terms of getting beyond challenging matters sooner.
- Patience is generally a skill developed over time. Having the ability to be patient and not too quick to react, can help a company to remain on course and make small adjustments versus reactive decisions that typically do not serve companies well in the long term.
- Although there is a perception people only have high energy when they are younger, mature employees might in fact have more energy. Less of their focus is on concerns such as social pressure, college loans, raising young children, have passed.
Points to ponder:
- Has your perspective on what it means to be a mature worker changed?
- Are you willing and/or able to reduce ageism in the work place?
- Are you ready to hire mature workers at your company?
- Will you add them to your team, making it more balanced?
The best performing teams I have seen, are the ones that are generationally balanced. Is yours?
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called Wisdom Whisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.
Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally.
If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (339) 987-0195.