There are many positives and negatives with age during your career. Sometimes you have more energy and sometimes you have more experience. Other times, a new perspective or more gravitas. Even when managing your team, you need to take into account what their strengths and weaknesses are — and capitalize or anticipate them. In today's post, I'd like to highly generalize my experience, interpretations, and understanding of each generation. They might not (and probably not) fully compare to you — but they are a broad interpretation of the workforce in general.
In any event, different age groups act differently . . . so where are you?
Just starting out - getting your feet wet - absorbing, learning, winning, losing.
Strengths: Young, lots of energy, new ideas, enthusiasm, fresh perspectives. Technology: You easily adopt any new tool or product and start using it immediately.
Weaknesses: Little or no experience, frustrates easily, limited knowledge, lacking in sophisticated interpersonal skill applications. Doesn't fully understand impacts and implications of behavior or decisions. Personal issues: likes to party, meeting partners, stays out late/comes in late.
Getting better, knowing more, developing relationships, slowing understanding how the game is played.
Strengths: More stable, able to take on more responsibility, better knowledge & experience, lots of energy, ready to move up - starting management positions. This is where they start to define their business personality. Technology: On the burning edge of technology - the ability to adopt it and use it with good business sense.
Weaknesses: Ready to move up - but not there yet, sometimes pushes the wrong way, personal issues: getting married/kids.
On the glide path - the right mix of experience, knowledge and energy.
Strengths: Number of years of critical business experience, deep knowledge of industry, great presenter, building gravitas, understands the complexities of the business and interpersonal relationships, growing manager. Know when to hold their tongue - there's a bit more at stake. Technology: Leveraging many new and old tools - but the newer ones are perplexing you a bit.
Weaknesses: Knows how everything works in business and gets disgruntled. Challenges authority, Personal issues: kids growing/school AND mid-life crises.
At the height of your ability - leadership and management talents abound. You are a linchpin!
Strengths: Gravitas - you can enter almost any room or situation and handle it easily, you've seen it all - so your reaction time is shorter, nothing really fazes you, your contact sphere is phenomenal - you can connect with virtually anyone and get things done.
Weaknesses: Your energy level is starting to wane a bit, you're not as energetic and enthusiastic as you were in your 20's/30's. Highly critical of stupid decisions and can easily see solutions on the horizon. HR & corporate tend to devalue you - watch out for personel cuts. Personal issues: kids in college/possible issues with marriage/death of parents. Technology: Starting to let it go - missing out on new innovations that streamline and integrate work.
Coming down for a smooth landing.
Strengths: Everyone approaches to you for advice - you are THE sensei. Great management, leadership, and direction are like breathing. Companies should show you off to clients and give advice to prospects. Personal: Kids are out of the house and grown - you have the time to work late and travel.
Weaknesses: Your energy level is slowing way down - no more 10-12 hour days. You might miss faster moving objects - people, projects, technology. Especially technology: we tend to become luddites - we disregard new advances and stay with the old (comfort zone issues). Watch out for HR & Corporate - they love to eliminate your position instantly.
Your 70's, 80's, 90's
Enough already - unless you've perfected the perfect platform and formula for continuing work - time to take it easy.