Archive for February, 2012
At Sageco, the men and women we call ‘sages’ are the experts and most senior executives in organisations, who have spent a lifetime – or at least a very long time (measured in decades) – learning, leading and applying their knowledge in the specialist areas they direct.
Facilitating them in the process of capturing and transferring their expert knowledge is an unusual and fascinating privilege. Their stories are unique, and in telling them you get some glimpses (often totally unexpected) into the complexities of how our very complex society works.
Stories are told in every technical and management realm:
- How to locate an inexplicable leak causing lower pressure in some small corner of a city’s huge water mains network.
- What can be done to ensure safety and balance the clearly conflicting demands of a railway line and its road overpass, built in unavoidably unstable terrain.
- The secret skills of negotiation that keep a large public utility operating and profitable, while avoiding strikes and meeting the increasing pay needs and conditions of its workers.
All those involved in capturing their stories and handing on the skills of the sages learn and grow: the people who will take over their work from the sages, colleagues from other areas linked to their output, administrators who keep the workforce operating. Often the sages themselves learn all over again lessons they had forgotten – or knew by intuition or implicitly.
And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is to see the sages thanked and acknowledged by colleagues who understand, often for the first time, how much they contribute to keeping the wheels turning.
For over seven years the Sageco Exchange program has been used by organisations as a catalyst for knowledge transfer. Contact Sageco to find out more.
Last week’s survey results featured in the Financial Services Council paper on ‘Attitudes to Older Workers’ spurned commentary in a number of mainstream newspapers and industry mags. Adele Horin wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, the editor in the Australian commented – though not directly about the research, and Human Capital took the story up. The research paper is excellent and there are some pearls of quotes that we’ll tuck away. OK – I’ll share one with you now.
“…In the resources sector, we’ve had to be quite creative in actually keeping older people on-board. We see them as a wonderful source of experience and knowledge. The labour demands in our sector are massive – and the skilled talent pool is actually drying up…” Senior HR Director, Resources Sector.
The topic of discrimination is of course very serious. But it intrigues me that over the eight years that Sageco has focussed on mature age workforce solutions, we struggle to find anything new under the sun. Except, of course, the fabulous new Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan.
So, I asked myself the question, “What’s my attitude to workers (putting age aside)?”. Here’s my list as someone who has recruited and employed people for my various teams over the last 20 years.
I want ‘workers’ for my team who:
- Keep themselves current - with skills, news, styles, professional associations and good coffee.
- Keep themselves connected - team members who connect me with other great people. Is there a better way to network?
- Keep managing their career - workers who grow their own career, invest in it and keep moving forward. The ones who can’t imagine not having a career in some way, shape or form.
- Keep curious - I love workers who ask questions, challenge the norm and always want to find a better way.
- Are confidently competent. Fullstop. I’ve come to believe that the description ‘highly competent’ is one to strive for. The cost of incompetence and a manager’s inability to deal with it is astounding.
Hand on my heart, I can say that I’ve employed 24 year olds and 67 year olds who get big ticks against all five characteristics. If you’re a ‘mature worker’ , this is a gentle nudge to check yourself against this list. How do you fare?
To employers – maybe you need to write your own list. And seriously ask yourself: What does age have to do with it?