Does age matter in recruitment, career or retirement planning, or doesn’t it? What’s your prejudice or excuse? Can you be swayed? What’s your story?
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Age Doesn’t Matter. Really?
Discussing age in business today, do you know how many superbly experienced people approaching age 50 fear being “tossed on the workforce scrapheap”? Sadly, whilst often a limiting belief, this frequently becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No matter how much the politicians talk up or legislate the experience value of “ageing” skills, just as many entrepreneurs in today’s short term profit focused, competitive marketplace want to rid themselves of these “age liabilities”. Employing two bright “half price youngsters” instead is rife. Everyone knows a few such stories, right?
The proportion of baby-boomers in our population is huge. An alarming number have retired or are planning retirement. Draining the economy. Eroding the tax base. Draining skill and experience resource pools. Burdening pension buckets. Increasing health costs, often invoked by lack of purpose driven “dis-ease”.
But also helping businesses reduce their cost base and employment liabilities. As an employer or recruiter of good people, are you willing to admit how prejudiced you may be against age?
Does Age Matter? Extending the Benefits
But this doesn’t have to be that way. Managing or preparing for the inevitable age thresholds features strongly in most of my client career management work.
Traditionally the corporate seniority triangle narrowing towards the top suggests that (employed) role availability also narrows with progressing age.
My clients learn to invert this triangle, suggesting that their value proposition actually increases with each year of age and experience, creating more opportunities, rather than less, provided one thing. That they are willing to be more flexible with their engagement model. Particularly if you’ve been coached to create (multiple) net worth generating, passive incomes. So you aren’t dependent on a salary every month. If you insist on continuing to earn top employment dollars, this can be hard.
We look at leveraging experience into consulting environments willing to employ or contract relevant expertise and experience. To apply such skills to shorter term, measurable client outcomes, learning the transition into consulting in a relatively stable arrangement. Including how to network and sell such services with consistency.
Or we coach you confidently into a contracting setup, including the necessary networking, marketing and selling skills. As well as the necessary financial disciplines and transition into achieving more short term business success outcomes more quickly.
We discuss these in more depth in Considering Your Own Business?
I sense some “tradies” shaking your head, knowing that age can curtail physical sustainability. Of course how well you look after yourself is valid for everybody. However, I have coached a few “tradies” from “being on the ladder” to either more “running their business” (as in engaging more “hands”) or leveraging decades of rich experience into teaching and training others.
Does Age Matter? Curtailing the Downsides
I’ve successfully coached many an exec stay employed much longer than they (or their bosses) thought relevant. A pre-requisite is actively keeping yourself and your skills relevant. (You are either “green and growing, or ripe and rotting”). It also presupposes a solid self confidence and dealing with limiting beliefs.
Proving your ability to “lead from behind”, to park your ego and allowing others to shine as well as adopting recognized coaching and mentoring ability will create a fundamental difference in acceptance.
Staff and customers love it. However, peers and certain bosses often feel threatened by the experience and “being shown up” and hence will avoid supporting or engaging such maturity.
My best ever business outcomes were achieved when I was able to have my business peers and even key players more senior to me seconded into my teams and subordinated to my leadership. Why? Because I avoided “pissing contests” and empowered them to own and lead their spaces. To absolutely leverage their superb breadth and depth of expertise and credibility. I promoted the hell out of their value to every stakeholder. And assured at every possibility to have them understand how valuable they were to everyone. Not every leader can do that.
In the transition into their own business, many of my clients have struggled trying to stay on top of everything as their business grows. However, they have also been reluctant to employ people and have to pay payroll tax (one of the most ludicrous disincentives to grow a business I have ever seen).
I’ve often helped them match their capacity need with the need of many superbly skilled and experienced “oldies” or mum’s wanting to return to work, that lack purpose, are bored. Many of my business owner clients now engage such skills on a part time, contract or casual basis to everyone’s benefit.
Also, if you can teach “oldies” to develop blogging skills, they can share and retain valuable corporate knowledge formats younger generations love to consume.
Does Age Matter? 70 is the new 60
We seem to be living longer. My dad has been in retirement for over 30 years and is no longer an exception. More and more people want (and need) to work longer because retirement is a function of funds, not age. Better health and better managed relevance of purpose keeps people more enthusiastically engaged for longer. In my networks, increasing numbers of independents have business plans that easily take them to age 70. I know mine does.
As an older employee, how much do these thresholds worry you? Are you willing to confront them, or will you bury your head in the sand?
As a business owner or leader, are you willing to admit how prejudiced you may be towards age? Can you see some more flexible options available to you?
My experience has been that with some good coaching, both camps can achieve win – win outcomes. Agree?