customers, innovation, Leadership, Social Media

The IPad Exception: 15+ Experience Need Not Apply

generation conflict at work comic

What Happened to the Value of Experience?

Awesomeness. Excitement. The magic of selfies. Does that make you think of the youngest guy on your team?

Relevance. Research. The magic of taking notes in a spiral-bound notebookDoes that make you think of the oldest guy on your team?

It isn’t Them vs. US.  It’s all about speed and value and it’s going to make a difference at some point. This point in time actually.

Now I can just see the eyes rolling back when anyone under 35  reads the headline. Even before all this wonderful technology invaded the workplace, younger workers were rolling their eyes back at the word “experience”.  It’s what youth does. They are workers who give wings to ideas and passion and force the work environment to move forward at a greater speed. That is progress.

What is missing today is a coordinated plan to value those with  15+ years of experience.

They are not “outdated” in the value they can offer, even if they don’t have a profile photo and aren’t  on Snapchat. In fact, if anyone under 35 would take a moment of interest in what that 15+ person thinks then perhaps you could offer to mentor them in the value of texting while they could mentor you with a few tricks on how to get ahead.

You see it isn’t that both generations don’t have much to teach other, it is that the workplace is so focused on optimization: salaries and office politics.   I see that co-working  environments have removed the cubicles but they also revealed the ugly truth about mentoring: mostly that there is none anymore.

Oh, it’s in the job descriptions. “Can mentor younger team member”, but when it asks for 3-5 years experience for a “senior” job position how is that an age when one can be a senior member who mentors?

Our lifeline of technology has overshadowed the importance of knowledge and experience.  We value new and shiny as a workforce and have completely turned the reins of “business” over to the gadget gurus.  Oh, we need gadget gurus, but we need a voice of one or two understands the value of time. There must be a balance, a bridge between the two!

Today, we are celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the IPad as if it were the answer to global warming. Everyone is happy and shocked at the five years because, well, what technology last five years?

We give the IPad and exception. People, on the other hand, well that is not the same value we have on people.

The younger Steve Jobs offered us so much as a society and a workforce, but aging the Steve Jobs, the one we lost, is missed for his confidence and long-term vision. His cockiness was tempered by his complete confidence in the value of his people to bring beauty and utility into our lives. For him, his age and experience brought us the ability to be new but also incorporate core principles and experience.

Look across your cubicle at the oldest and the youngest member of your team and stop seeing dollar signs and health-benefit calculations.  Isn’t it time we fostered a workplace where both sides began to listen to each other?

Embracing technology is merely about being heard and valued for the older workforce. It is shoved in their face by the newest employees who immediately discard their value because they don’t text or have an Instagram account.

Is that what will change your business–everyone having an Instagram account?

Or would it be that side-by- side, the ones with a longer-term vision and the ones with a short-range technology passion start to listen to each other and share their own unique knowledge?

Perhaps if the 15+ employee wasn’t in fear of being fired in our “at-will” workforce and replaced by a lower salary in the 5+ category, there would be more sharing of core strengths. Just as the 3-5 employee wouldn’t feel the need to roll their eyes to management in an effort to be valued for something they know so much about.  Both sides equal value to a company. And it would be a whole lot easier if management began to value the combination of youth and experience and not just the visual appearances of technological trends.

What we hate about Gen Y is their brashness and disconnection. And what we hate about the aging Gen Xers is their stubbornness and disconnection.

The insight here is that they are both disconnected from each other. 

That is a management problem.
That is a mission statement problem.
That is a company culture that forgot why it does what it does problem.

Valuing employees shouldn’t be generational.

It should be focused on the value of their creative union.  Some bring “awesomeness and energy” and some bring ” realism and practicality”.

That is what wisdom is.  And that is what we all miss about Steve jobs…. his phenomenal, 15++ wisdom.

When was the last time you were asked to mentor someone?  Is there a mentoring program at your workplace?  Can you share how it works?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Social Media Trainer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. And if you are curious, she is an Aging Gen-Xer with the heart and soul of Gen Y! Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

Source of photos: Dave Simons, The Economist; and Time Magazine.

Originally Posted on LinkedIn:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s