We Have a problem in Corporate America
As a person who’s been a part of corporate America for well more than two decades, I have some observations.
Back when I first entered this world, it was clear to me that the glass ceiling was very real and the people who were invited to have a voice at the table had been around for a long, long time. It created an imbalance between tried and true experience and new ideas.
Fast forward thirty years (which amazingly isn’t as difficult as it sounds), disparity still exists, it’s just been turned on it’s head. Somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago, a new generation entered the work force. A plethora of young people who had grown up with technology and never experienced what life was like before the internet, cell phones and microwaves.
From my perspective, too many people from previous generations let themselves be intimidated by technology and the tides of corporate America turned significantly. Suddenly, experience became secondary to computers and other high tech business solutions.
The faces around the ‘leadership’ tables were no longer those with experience etched between their eyebrows and around their mouths. Instead, the seats at the table were filled with individuals whose ticket into the inner circle was the ability to baffle the older generations with the ease in which they traversed through technology solutions.
If I had a nickel for every time, I’ve heard one of my colleagues who is a ‘person of a certain age’ bow out of a conversation or worse publicly deprecated the value of their experience, I’d be a wealthy woman. It makes me cringe every time I hear someone my age say anything to the effect of, “I’m too old to learn how to use technology.” Or worse yet, “I know I’ll be out of a job soon because I can’t learn how to use high tech solutions.
The way the world was when I entered the workforce, experience was far and away considered to be more valuable than fresh ideas and a knowledge of new solutions to help businesses grow. Now, the tables have turned, and years of experience play second fiddle to those who are technology savvy.
In my mind, there’s no reason ‘people of a certain age’ should let themselves be intimidated by technology, they’re only serving to widen the gap between generations. Instead, we have an opportunity to learn from our younger colleagues, and well, to have some fun learning new things on our own as well. The ability to recommend solutions, based on years of experience coupled with the latest technology is priceless.
I also see no reason for much younger generations to disregard the value their colleagues with decades of experience bring to the table.
There are days that I wonder about the future of business in the U.S. and perhaps other countries if we don’t all make efforts to fully acknowledge the value of new faces and ideas as well as the wisdom possessed by those who have been around for more than a few years. For me, there’s a mutual responsibility and opportunity to learn from generations that are not our own.
Out with the old and in with the new is a flawed approach. Disregarding new ideas and young fresh perspectives is equally as flawed.
I can’t help but think that we’d all be more successful in business if we could figure out how to strike the right balance between generations.