Needless to say, this has not been a great experience for my friend. It has, however, been made slightly easier by the fact that almost all of the fifty-somethings in his business and social circles have also fallen from the corporate perch.
All of them.
Some were made redundant like my friend. Some volunteered for redundancy. Some were in businesses which had gone into administration. One has resigned.
It’s ‘good news’ for my friend because he feels less unusual.
In my view though it’s bad news for the companies these people have left behind.
I say this because I have a growing concern that business leadership is being centered on an age group that’s 10 – 15 years younger than may have been the case 25 years ago. Now, while people aged say, 30 – 40, may have more energy than their older colleagues, they almost certainly have less of their experience and life skills. And there’s often an absence of positive cynicism (which I define as a useful wariness of new ideas and initiatives until proven). In other words, there’s nothing to temper their enthusiasm… and that’s where the trouble can start.
How best to tackle this? Well – and I have touched on this before—companies really need to get to grips with the loss of knowledge and experience that mass departure of the over-fifties represents. Retaining them involves challenging the corporate cultural shibboleths so alluring to their younger counterparts. The over-fifties are at an age when they don’t give a *@@# about the latest corporate-speak, senior management initiatives, performance targets and training techniques.
Don’t punish them for that… they still want to apply their experience and contribute.
Tags: acquaintance age group bad news business leadership colleagues counterparts cynicism fifties growing concern left behind management initiatives mass departure no exceptions performance targets redundancy senior management shibboleths social circles temper wariness