Older workers are a large and fast-growing part of the working population. Contrary to popular belief in America, and some other countries, at the age of 50 one’s brains do not fall out of your head, you do not automatically begin to drool, and you are still able to remember the way home after work. Unfortunately, some ageing Marthas and Melvins out there have given these workers a bad rap.
Some workers nearing retirement decide they will just coast their last two years or so at a company. The truth of the matter is probably that these folks were lousy employees all along and you didn’t have the nerve to fire them and now, as they near the grazing field of retirement, they have become sacred cows. Another case is that they feel useless and unappreciated and are just keeping a low profile. The scenario looks like this:
- They do the minimal amount of work to get by
- These scared cows are often popular with their co-workers
- Firing them could result in a grand mess of legal problems
- You may be years younger and fear challenging them
- They are not motivated by promotion or money
- They are not afraid of being fired
This may sound like a hopeless situation and you may feel that you are at the end of your rope when attempting to motivate your older charges who have fallen into this end of career abyss. Here are some ideas to consider to help get older workers involved and back in the game.
Complexity and how it affects productivity seems to be the new boogie man haunting organiztions. The reality is that research by Margaret Wheatly in 1994 and Olson and Eoyang in 2001 brought this Ghoul out of its closet. Needless to say, different factors from different business issues such as technology and the world economic and political stages have added their own unique twists to the complexity of doing business. One factor that has remained constant is people. Zimmerman (1998), as quoted in a study by Peter M. Dickens states, “In every interaction, people mutually adjust their behaviors in ways needed to cope with changing internal and external environmental demands.”
I don’t know so much about the “mutually” part, but yes, as humans we either adapt or die. That’s what we do. Unfortunately, not all of us have the capability of adapting to certain situations, or we don’t adapt as rapidly as some of our teammates, or we fail to see the reason to adapt. Others fail to anticipate a change is in the works and get broadsided by the change. Then there are those who simply don’t want to adapt. Ahhhh, I can see you are already reading between the lines…human behavior can add to the complexity of business.
Behavior at the individual level plays a major role in business complexity. The factor that adds to the complexity at the individual level is that many CEOs fail to see this blind spot, fail to understand it, and therefore, fail to manage it. Where does complexity on an individual level manifest? A case study by McKinsey and a “heat map” generated from their research, indicates both the intensity of complexity as well as ferreting out individual causes. Some of these are
Disclaimer. In no way is this article meant to condone the use of drugs, illegal or otherwise. Nor is this a campaign to state an opinion as to whether drugs that are currently illegal be made legal.
Businesses compete in a number of ways and one of the most important is customer service. Because today there is so much competition, your customer service has to be beyond excellent. Needless to say, some businesses are better at this than others. One example of this is the dark side. No I’m not talking about Darth Vader, but rather the dark net.
According to a Ted Talk eloquently delivered by Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, a leading UK think tank, the dark net is going mainstream with its own brand of customer service. For those unfamiliar with the dark net, visitors to this realm may surf through sites for pirated books, activists and their causes, whistle blowers, illegal porn, and drugs. The business of illegal drugs is the focus of Mr. Bartlett’s Ted Talk.
Mr. Bartlett tells us that when one searches for illegal drugs on the dark net, one finds web pages of high quality with well-done images of products with detailed descriptions. The descriptions appear to include even how the product is made, thus alluding to its quality and purity – a major concern of drug users.
Every team member brings value to the table. Some team members are more tech savvy than others. Some are better at handling conflict than others. Some are better at problem solving. Some have a wide range of experiences, and on and on. Different talents cut across the generational spectrum. For example, while I’m no “whiz kid” when it comes to technology, I’ve met many far younger who are not as tech savvy as I am. Some younger people may have more experience at customer service than someone older. So let’s clear the table about what generation is better at one thing or the other.
What team members should have are shared values and commitment to the goal and to one another. What this article addresses are the specific, useable talents that can be put to use to enhance the bottom line, increase employee engagement, and help your employees have meaningful work. Let’s look at a few examples.
Let’s say you want to build a team or special task force to seek out future trends. You want them to do research, collect the data, and present it to the executive team or even the Board. What talents and attributes will these team members require for this type of task? Here are a few ideas of the type of people to select…