Excuse me… what now…why would we do such a thing?
Here’s my reasoning…
Over the past quarter-of-a-century, I’ve been fortunate to be in team leader positions for several organizations working with wonderful people. During this time, I’ve witnessed remarkably positive impacts in a multitude of industries generated by some of the most talented and united teams. Other teams I’ve been a part of? Well, I’ll just say there was a lack of love and lucidity.
In America, we’re blessed to be living in the most diverse country in the world. And because of this, all of us have the advantage to find the right blend of talent. When we do, we have the opportunity to deliver superior products and services across any industry.
The united teams I’ve led were naturally diverse. United and diverse? Sounds like an oxy-moron – but toss in time and trust and these are the ingredients for a flavorful mix of tasty achievements. Each of us offers a diverse perspective to a team. It shows up innately and shines through in our reasoning, our suggestions, our relations, and in the actions we take.
The number of years on this earth is on the list of diverse ingredients. “Salt of the Earth” as they say! Adding this seasoned spice is a valuable attribute for any team. Today, there are five generations in our workforce. Imagine a team of five, with one person from each generation. Now imagine the multiple-viewpoint approach to finding a solution with this team. Unstoppable, if you ask me.
Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. has shared with the world the 12 stages of life. In two of these stages Early Adulthood (ages 20-35) and Midlife (ages 35-50) we see much of their focus is on enterprise and contemplation. The first bracket is pre-occupied with finding a mate, exploring career options, and establishing friend-circles. Our midlife-selves are engrossed in taking a break from worldly responsibilities and reflecting on the deeper meanings of our lives.
Mature adulthood (ages 50+), Armstrong states, are those individuals that “have raised families, established themselves in their work life, and become contributors to the betterment of society.” Benevolence and Wisdom shine within these folks. They are in the prime of their working career having learned the importance of self and service. At this point they want to work, more now than ever. Many are supporting kids in college, have house payments, and wish to establish a level of security for their families.
In my career, I’ve hired from every age group. There’s a magic in 50-somethings. Here’s why they bubble to the top, in my assessment:
1. Wisdom. Wisdom brings with it a calm and confident individual. They have a proven track record. They’ve done good work, made the mistakes, and learned from their rich history. Without this, we repeat mistakes from the past. I’ve worked at some companies long enough where I’ve begun to see 20- and 30-somethings developing the same types of programs that were unsuccessful the FIRST time it was tried at the organization, years prior.
2. Respect. Many younger folks haven’t learned the depth of this important character trait. With a value of respect to everyone, many good and important actions can follow, including service excellence, customer satisfaction, and generosity. There’s a book titled “You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar.” This is a clever title that hits us in our face with its bold validity. It’s been a couple generations now since service excellence has been at the forefront of business priorities. Fresh companies with the Southwest, Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom’s overall value of respectful face-to-face interactions are becoming rarer and rarer.
3. Accountability. In most cases, integrity builds as we live through our 30’s and 40s. By the time we hit 50, we’ve established a strong work ethic. We own our work. We share our learnings. We build other leaders. This value takes a while to fully grasp and seems to slip past many people early in their career.
4. Benevolence. Younger people on the team will benefit from the knowledge and reliability of a confident adult who works smartly and also serves the community. Bonus: Younger worker satisfaction and loyalty increases when both their job role and organization contribute to a better society (social capital.)
5. Loyalty. They stick around. They’re mature enough to understand how to build genuine relationships. Trust comes much faster since this group is savvy to the workplace environment. They know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so they make things work where they are.
Here are some other things I’ve heard - and what I recommend we consider in response…
“Hire younger and we can mold them.”
“Hire younger for half the price.”
“50+ are too costly.”
“50+ isn’t cutting edge.”
Now, imagine these industries – and consider who you’d want as a signature member of your team, a 50-something, or a newbie? Hospitality. Construction. Sales. Healthcare. Finance. Manufacturing. Airlines. Education.
You know my vote.
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