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All things Pharma

Do we value wisdom in older workers enough?

 Is wisdom out of fashion? Simon North looks at attitudes to age.

In the modern industrial world today, wisdom is an undervalued concept. We tend to be much more interested in fast-moving, fluctuating, exciting information, trends and products driven along by speed of change in technology and media interest. Concepts like wisdom tend not to be in fashion in Western industrial societies.

In general, we primarily accumulate wisdom in two ways – through our experiences and through getting older. As we experience life, our judgement increases and is based on our ability to understand and make sense of the experiences.

Many organisations have a tendency not to look at the value of wisdom in terms of how it can grow and sustain them. Instead they tend to focus on the youth coming through and at a higher level, achievers who lead the business. At one level this is good thinking; it’s just that there’s not enough emphasis on making the most of the expertise and wisdom that already exists from the people who have grown up with the business. There’s potential here, to use that human resource of wise people in an imaginative and creative way.

There used to be a sense that when someone worked at the same place for a long time, at some point they would no longer be valued; they become part of the furniture. However, if that same person were energised whilst at work with their managers also being energised, stimulated and enthused by their knowledge, things could be very different.

If we made sure that we valued, respected and utilised the wisdom readily available by employees all around us, imagine what we could achieve? If we listened harder and understood what our team members really wanted, what opportunities would appear? Are they as engaged and productive as they could be? Are they motivated to contribute and to really achieve results at work? Have we been missing out because we’ve neglected to listen to and really appreciate our older wiser workers?

Simon North co-founded Position Ignition: launching www.positionignitionorg.com for organisations and www.positionignition.com for individuals, to provide transition specialist services to professional men and women as they navigate their way through their mid- career and transition into retirement. Simon is an experienced businessman, coach and career guide.

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