Would you win Gold for managing an age diverse workforce?

In Workforce by Judith Wardell

As the Rio Olympics has stirred the imagination and passion of our nation I have reflected on lessons we could learn in managing age diverse organisations.

Our population is ageing and businesses need to retain the skills and experience of older workers. With life expectancy continuing to increase, future generations face extended working lives. It is time to think differently and design jobs and careers with a 100 year life span in mind.

5 Lessons in age management from Team GB

1. Age is no barrier to taking part or winning gold. The age range of Team GB ranged from Amy Tinkler at 16 to Nick Skelton at 59. It matters not that Nick has recently had a hip replacement nor that Amy has been studying for her GCSE exams. They are focused on the current task and have the relevant knowledge and skills and a passion to succeed.

2. Performance is measured on an outcome basis. It’s not how many hours they put in or how long they stay at the gym that’s measured; just whether they can perform at their personal best at the right time to achieve the desired goals. No one asks Tom Daley how often he goes to the pool and how long he stays there!

3.The importance of a good coach is understood and valued. Individuals understand that their coach can see things that they can’t whilst in the centre of the action and can offer a different and valuable perspective. Feedback is sought and given in a constructive way to develop performance and achieve the best results possible.

4. Performance depends on age diverse teams. Gold medals are earned by high performing teams, made up of a wide range of individuals with specialist roles. Age is no bar from being part of the team and champions who are no longer in the front line are respected as coaches and mentors.

5. Retirement is simply a career transition. Olympians don’t stop working they simply move on to a new phase in their working life. Planning and retraining for the next step takes place in good time is to ease the transition. The cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand was already getting a taste for presenting in the BBC studio and Louis Smith has already turned his gymnast skills to ballroom dancing!

It’s time that we invested in creating workplaces that recognise and develop talent in a way that allows people to perform at their best at all stages of life.

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