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Seniority is an asset

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Seniors workersAs many other criteria like race, gender, or social level, seniority is often an element of discrimination. When companies are operating restructuring processes, it is often the seniors who are fired. Most of the time, there are considered as a cost for the company, and less productive than the youngest. It is a short term vision, and a purely financial logic that doesn’t care about the quality level of work provided by people.

Productivity and creativity are not a question of age. It is a question of mind. Some people are always in a learning mode. In an ongoing changing world, they live with their time and consider learning new things as new opportunities. The key of such way of life is motivation. As far as you define and attribute goals matching with people competences, experience and expectations, you can only have motivated people who will give the best of themselves.

Experience and knowledge are advantages of seniority, as far as you learn from them. Experience means that you are doing mistakes. As far as you are aware and learn from your mistakes, it is an asset that completes your knowledge base and allows you to anticipate similar situations in future projects.

I remember a collaborator at a customer who was nearly 64 years old. As financial guy, he was computer literate and had among other things a high level of database management knowledge. But to reach such level of knowledge is not done overnight. It was the result of hours and hours of self-training and experimentation. He had probably a good salary as a senior, but how can we evaluate a salary if you don’t take into account the level of productivity and creativity. With his database knowledge, my colleague creates applications to do the job of one day in 30 minutes, and providing more information and more accurate.  So, when companies are looking for gains of productivity, is age the right criteria of people selection without considering experience and knowledge? I don’t think so.

Another example: few years ago, I met a woman during an entrepreneur week-end. When she went on retirement, she decided to do her first steps with computers and to discover internet.  After few time, she followed a special training in order to audit websites about their accessibility for people having problems of vision. She built a strong community on the web and is attending co-working places.  Here again, the acquired competences are not a question of age but a question of mind.

Of course, in a fast and ongoing changing world, seniors like youngest must question themselves.  Seniors who worked on several projects and assignments acquired a lot of experience. But what is important is the capacity to perceive the changes of the environment and to transpose their experience into a new context.  Experience does not mean that seniors reach a summit where they know everything and have answers to each challenge and problems.  Seniors have experience, and youngest people have new visions about the future of business, of society. What is interesting is the combination of senior experience and young people visions that can lead to creating innovative processes.

Seniors can be an asset for organization as long as they consider that age is not a criteria to stop to learn and to progress. They are an asset if they are aware about their potential and if they see changes as opportunities that can enrich their personal journey. They are also an asset if they share experience, knowledge and journey with juniors. Transmission is probably a key role they can play in favor of young generations. The conditions to value seniority are first that seniors themselves have always a project and don’t see age as a barrier, and secondly that their value is recognized as an asset. This implies a long term vision. As this African proverb says: “Along we go faster, together we go further”.

 

Picture source: money.usnews.com

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2018 at 06:42

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