I am always a bit sceptical about news of studies regarding perceptions and attitudes about the mature workforce like the one that got published recently.
Don’t get me wrong; if the findings indicate a true change of practice regarding older workers, that’s great.
I mean it’s in everyone’s best interest, right? Sooner or later – if we’re lucky – we’re moving up the age bracket whilst staying functional.
Whether we’re bosses or employees, we’re always selling our professionalism, experience and potential. Fact remains, the perception of our effectiveness as salespeople is impacted by how wrinkled we look.
How do we change these perceptions? How do we become grey hair impervious?
All of us have a to-do. Owners, managers and workers young and old need to nremain ‘responsible’.
1. employees, ensure you’re not mis-cast. There will be a temptation to take on a job that may not be a strength to you, but your potential employer is going to say ‘come on mate, you’re experienced, you can do this job’. if you know that is not the case, don’t accept it. It will come back to haunt you.
2. employers, just because some people have been on the workforce for thirty years, it guarantees you nothin’. There are people who are shit workers in their 20’s and they don’t learn, skill up or gain insights, and in their 50’s they remain shit workers. Leave the affirmative action stuff, don’t hire off the back of the wise-older worker preconception, and interview and test as if you want the job done the best possible way.
3. employees stay hungry. No-one wants lazy fat cats in their teams, however young or old. Show that you want the job, that you want to do well, that you want to become a linchpin of the organisation (here goes Seth Godin again). Stamina changes should not impact on your attitude.
4. employers, situational leadership won’t go astray across all your teams.There are certainly different motivators per staff member; don’t manage generational groups. Manage individuals.
12-10-2010 Update: Good stats and thoughts from Ross Clennett