Need a Career Boost? Act Your Age

Two years ago, our CEO Charles Wardell told FoxBusiness.com that job experience “has come back into vogue in a big way.” Wardell’s point was that organizations are more earnestly recruiting older executives and other “seasoned” workers, especially in industries that are particularly turbulent and need staff to lend stability amid chaos. Opportunities are still there today for late-career professionals who want to keep working.

Of course, youth is in vogue, too, with career experts everywhere talking about millennials and their impact on the workplace and their (mostly positive) influence on more senior colleagues. One of those commenting has been consultant Michelle Lee, who recently wrote, on the Take the Lead blog, that intergenerational unity will be a critical issue for organizations moving forward.

Intergenerational unity at work requires a clear mission and vision, Lee says. “An organization’s mission is a core purpose that doesn’t change; it’s what brings employees together, leading to the alignment and realignment of teams. Your mission is the basis for your vision, which is what teams desire to achieve at some point in the future.” By aligning a team or entire organization around commonalities, “it is possible to focus on bridging individuals across generations.”

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee

A hindrance to intergenerational unity is stereotyping, Lee believes. In a recent interview with Talent Management magazine, she encourages team leaders and executives to address age stereotypes head on. “Call them out and name them for what they are: stereotypes based on generalizations, not individuals,” she says. “Yes, they are rooted in biases, unconscious or not, but bringing them to the forefront and identifying the elephant in the room is a good start to changing generalized, often faulty, impressions.” A means of bringing such issues to the forefront is through team assessment and 360-degree feedback tools—both of which Lee conducts as part of her role in Witt/Kieffer’s Leadership Solutions practice.

Wayne Luke

Wayne Luke

Finally, individual professionals and executives of all ages bear responsibility for workplace harmony, says Wayne Luke, managing partner of Witt/Kieffer’s Not-for-Profit practice. Writing for the Association for Talent Development website, Luke encourages readers to turn age-related stereotypes into career strengths.

“To be sure, stereotypes like ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ exist, but our actions can shape whether they have an impact on our careers,” he writes. “Don’t allow yourself to be the target of labels, which can actually be strengths that you should feature. In fact, some of these stereotypical attributes may be the very professional and personal assets that potential employers will come to value.”

Being young or “seasoned” can be in vogue if you understand what your skills and talents bring to an organization, and how you can positively impact colleagues. Looking for a new job, promotion, or raise? Act your age.

By Paul Thomas, Strategic Communications Leader

Guidebook: Building Better Healthcare Boards

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