Monthly Archives: October 2013

Managing for Change: Why younger managers need education too !

Reproduced with the permission of the author, Heidi Holmes of adage.com.au

In recent weeks, there seems to be a growing interest in the dynamics between a younger boss and an older employee. As our population ages and older workers stay in the workforce longer, the traditional hierarchy of an organisation is changing. Where age often determined seniority, for the first time in history we are seeing an emerging trend where older workers are now reporting to younger managers.

The concept of ‘retirement’ for many older workers is either something they don’t aspire to or something that for the moment is out of reach. The GFC, mid-life divorce, increased life expectancy and the desire to have a comfortable retirement, are either driving older workers back to work or keeping them in the workforce longer.

As with any cultural or demographic shift, this obviously presents some challenges that organisations need to address in order to ensure a cohesive and productive workplace.

Many recruiters and hiring managers hold negative assumptions and stereotypes about older workers: reluctance to embrace change, not tech savvy and an inability to work with younger colleagues.

Too often, the burden seems to be placed on older workers to adapt to working with a younger boss.

There is plenty of documented advice for older workers. One of the most prevalent is a need to show a willingness to embrace change and use new technologies. That equates to ‘get an online profile’! At Adage, we also advise mature jobseekers in an interview situation to address the ‘elephant in the room’. Even though the interviewee might not directly ask the older worker how they would handle a younger boss, they are probably thinking it. Therefore, we advise our jobseekers to address this issue directly, reiterating they actually enjoy working with younger people and providing an example of how they have worked well with younger colleagues in the past.

However, if you turn the tables, less expectation is placed on younger managers to understand how best to work with and manage older workers.

Surely there is an important role for younger managers to play here as well?

For the first time in history, four generations of workers could find themselves working together. This is a fact organisations can no longer ignore and if they continue to do so for better work place ‘harmony’ in the short term, they stand to face more pain in the long term. We are only at the start of this phenonomon – therefore educating younger managers on the important role and contribution older workers make is imperative to ensure the longer-term growth and competitiveness of the organisation.

Younger managers who effectively work with their older colleagues stand to gain from not only having a more engaged employee, but also learn some valuable life lessons that aren’t taught at university. Older workers not only have valuable work experience, they also have life experience.

Where a younger boss may find themselves in a challenging situation for the first time, chances are their older counterpart has dealt with this situation or similar before. The older worker can act as a trusted advisor, mentor or sounding board providing advice and guidance on how to best manage a situation.

This type of scenario playing out is not far fetched. How often would a father or mother act as a ‘guide’ for their Gen Y children? Therefore, why could an older colleague not fulfil this same role? Sure, respect must come into the equation. However the first step in obtaining mutual respect in the workforce is to encourage an environment where all opinions and contributions are valued. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or socio-economic status, mutual respect is something all organisations should encourage.

If organisations continue to promote and aspire to be an employer of choice, they need to ensure processes are in place to foster a culture where the burden does not simple rest on one individual to come to the table with a willingness and openness to embrace change.

SilverTemp is a labour hire agency in the Northern Rivers of NSW with a specific focus on placing mature age job seekers into casual, part time and temporary employment.

Contact us for more information at info@silvertemp.com or phone 0448 244 111

Do you have a compelling story? Why would somebody listen to you?

 

Reprinted with permission of Adage Blog – Guest Post by  Paul Slezak, RecruitLoop

 

A few years ago, I had a colleague who, if she was ever asked the question “so what do you do?”, would come up with any other profession in order to avoid admitting she was a recruiter.

 

Don’t get me wrong here. She certainly wasn’t ashamed of being a recruitment consultant (and she was a very good one at that).It’s just that when she wasn’t at work, she didn’t want complete strangers throwing themselves at her to try to help them find a new job.

 

She’d tell people sitting next to her on planes that she was a button designer for Country Road or even that she was the person responsible for naming the colours for Dulux Paints.

 

I once took her along as my guest to a networking event and we decided to run an experiment. If we were asked (and at a business networking event we knew we would be), I would be honest and say I ran a recruitment business. Danielle decided (for that particular evening) that she would be a ‘trend hunter’ working for a leading cosmetics group that she couldn’t disclose.

 

Sure enough within the first 10 minutes (I’m not exaggerating here), one person had told me how his son had been let go from five jobs in two years and asked whether he could send me his CV; and another woman told me that she thought (quite adamantly) that her husband should get a new job and that she’d definitely get him to give me a call. They both quickly moved on to work the room clearly in search of others who might be able to help their family members resolve their career dilemmas.

 

On the other hand, I watched closely as my cosmetic trend hunting ‘colleague’ had managed to create quite a gathering and had people listening intently as she described the lipsticks and mascaras of the future! They were intrigued, some even suggesting companies she should contact as part of her upcoming ‘research’.

 

One thing our somewhat mischievous experiment proved was that by having something unique and interesting to talk about, people were seriously keen to listen.

 

Mature age workers all have their own interesting story to tell … of a career filled with anecdotes, life experiences, and tales of jobs past.

 

However unfortunately many mature job seekers spend far too much time asking for (often) generic advice as opposed to presenting a compelling story as to why someone should hire them. This is usually the result of a lack of confidence or fear of embarking on something new or different.

 

Think about your greatest achievements – not only your professional accomplishments, but your personal ones too. And don’t limit them to your most recent position or to just the last few years. Think back as far as you can.

 

Now you need to create the compelling story around how you felt at the time; what skills or personal attributes resulted in your achievements; and above all how you see the skills you have developed over the years as well as your competencies helping you aspire towards new accomplishments in your next role.

 

I’m certainly not suggesting you create a fake personality like my colleague Danielle. But you not only need to ask yourself why someone would hire you. Before that will ever happen you need to ask yourself why someone would listen to your story – whether it’s during an interview or simply during your information gathering or research into potential opportunities.

 

When a potential employer is listening intently to what you have to say, they then start to think about how you could fit into their business. If you spend too much time asking for advice from contacts and prospective employers without a compelling story of your own, you’ll soon find yourself with a lot of advice but no real concrete opportunities.

 

So think about your achievements; build your compelling story; now get out there and pitch your story to as many people as you can. Intrigue your audience. Don’t let them quickly move on to work the room in search of their next superficial conversation.

 

By the way, in case you’re wondering … I really am one of the co-founders of Recruit Loop. Although I’ve often thought about what it would be like to be the person who names all the items in an Ikea  catalogue!