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Crusty “Older workers”…

This topic (near and dear to my heart) surfaced recently while attending a webinar on how to coach high performing sales reps.  For some reason the presenter credentialed himself at the beginning as a “younger worker”.

I’m not sure how it happened, but we side-tracked away from the topic of high performing sales reps to motivating what the presenter termed “older workers”.  I think he was simply trying to cite a few examples of difficult coaching situations – but the examples he cited were those tired, old, sound tracks about we Baby Boomers.

His negative comments spurred me to the chat box.  Coincidentally there were quite of few of my Baby Boomer colleagues online.  So, when he said “older workers” are not coachable anymore; not technically savvy; not wanting to “go the extra mile”; his chat box filled up.  Unfortunately, things went downhill from there.

This “older workers” topic was featured in a recent article about Baby Boomers.  The main point of the article was older workers are not retiring at age 65.  Longer life spans; lower retirement savings; and higher cost of living were cited as reasons.  Our skilled productivity was barely mentioned.  The writer suggested we’re in the way; clogging up promotions and the advancement of younger workers.  I wondered if he just expected us to go away?

Look… (How’s that for a direct word we Baby Boomers are notorious for?)  When people write these articles or use such clichés to besmirch minorities; women; or other protected groups of people – FBI investigations, #movements, and woke responses are initiated.  But if the group in question is comprised of sexagenarians, people easily make wrong (and very hurtful) statements about us, seemingly without remorse.

I can’t speak for every profession in any industry but believe me; those of my generation still in technology sales are here because we want to be; not because we have to be.  We’re good at it.  If we come across to our managers as a bit “crusty”, it might just be that said manager does not know what motivates us.  A lot has been said about managing Millennials. When was the last session you attended that focused on motivating Baby Boomers?

True, we’ve already mentored, managed, led, coached, trained, hired, fired, promoted, parented, and grandparented others.  Even so, motivating us isn’t a bad thing.  A little respect for our knowledge and experience goes a long way.  Talking with us vs. avoiding us is greatly appreciated.

Permit me to offer three more tips that might help if you’re managing one of us crusty, “older workers”:

  1. False team hype doesn’t work very well – we prefer genuine comradery to contrived cheer leading and faux claims of company culture.
  2. The “if we don’t hit our number the sky will fall” hyperbole doesn’t move us.  We came up on draw vs. commission comp plans – no salary – no sales – no dinner.  If we made it this far, we’re already wired to hit our number.  If we don’t fire us; we’ll be OK.  You will be too.
  3. “Career progression” carrots are not carrots to us – at this stage we want career fulfilment not career advancement; there’s a huge difference.

Try discussing your concerns with us as if we were adults – after all, that’s how we used to do it when we were the boss.  BTW – many of us don’t want to be the boss anymore because we have learned, managing people is messy; especially those crusty older workers LoL!

GAP

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4 Comments


  1. Jim Anderson
    Dec 11, 2019

    Anytime a webinar leader begins to make generalizations about how to manage individuals as a function of their age or membership within a certain demographic group that presenter is undermining their own credibility. I’ve worked with individuals of all ages and various backgrounds and learned that a person’s competence and commitment is a function of their individual choices, ambition and innate abilities, not their age, color, or socioeconomic background.


  2. John Kleinhenz
    Dec 12, 2019

    Hey Gary – great read!


  3. John Kleinhenz
    Dec 12, 2019

    Hey Gary – great insight!


  4. Patty Manvelichvili
    Dec 12, 2019

    I loved this one Gary. Great response to a bad but all too familiar situation.

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