PERSPECTIVES: NUMBERS COUNT. PASSION TRIUMPHS

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“Act your Passion – not your age”.

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

They say you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

I am a numbers man. I love maths. And I am passionate about things. Music. Books. Movies. Plants. Animals. Nature. And sometimes about people. Sometimes they clash. Numbers and Passion, that is.

The top management of the previous two IT companies I worked for were taken over by numbers people – one with a doctorate in numbers. And they started chasing numbers. Turn-over. Sales figures. The share price. Not replacing staff who resign but sharing the workload amongst those who remained. All done to make the numbers look better. Whilst these soul-crunching execs made the shareholders happy, they lost some very passionate people in the process.

A business is made up of people, not numbers. I saw a whole accounts department – who sat on the other side of a partition, and people I worked with daily and respected for their diligence, late hours, personal sacrifice – closed down and their jobs outsourced to somewhere where wages were lower – to save money. One person was a widow who lost her on-duty policeman husband the previous Christmas Day in an accident. She had two school-going kids. And had been working there for 10 years. Our executive flew to London once a month – Business Class – “to report numbers”. And the ticket cost the same as the combined monthly salaries of the four people who were laid off.

Shareholders are just one group in a symbiotic community of four, or more. There are clients. Worker bees. And management. All four make a business go round. And when there are actually real products, such as food, involved, then we must include farmers, truck drivers, and others in the “pip-to-plate” supply line equation.

Will there ever be a Wall Street for Passion?

No!

Because you cannot trade Passion.

Let us use another example: The Olympics.

Passion is what keeps the athletes training. Through hurt. Winters. Rain. Disappointments. They may treasure two things: medals on the podium OR just participating. For every gold medalist there are perhaps 20 non-medalists. But they participate in the same lofty event. Kudos to them all!

If you are world number one is it because you love running, throwing the discus or javelin, jumping high or long – or just being number one and occupying the highest place on the podium?

You will be on a personal high after every good run, throw, jump – but perhaps only once on the podium. Perhaps. And perhaps be rich afterwards. Perhaps. But think about it, what is more satisfying in the long run (or throw or jump)? The admiration and inspiration of kids? Hearing your anthem play on the podium? Or your bank account? Whichever one you choose will define you. Maybe you love them all – but can’t eat neither.

Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life. Every morning wake up with.

Who are you? A number? Or a Passionate Human?

And as for numbers. They mean a lot. Explain a lot. But they cannot measure or explain Passion.

KEY POINTS

  • Sometimes numbers and passion clash.
  • Executives’ numbers-chase often end up losing passionate people in the process.
  • A business is made up of people – not numbers.
  • There will never be a Wall Street for Passion.
  • Everyone who participates is a winner. You don’t have to stand on a podium to be one.
  • You are defined by the choices you make – and how you act them out.

ACTION STEPS

  • Act your Passion. Not your age.
  • Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life.

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Where Does The Greying Of The Workforce Lead?

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Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age ~Victor Hugo.

The ageist bias against seniors is rife, but how long can the workforce ignore them as part of a productive economy?

  • Shifting demographics and workforce movements point to resource shortages which may give seniors more bargaining power in time to come.

Following are welcome facts for those seeking to be “still in demand after 65”, albeit worrisome for countries / organizations, but:

  • 31% of employers worldwide have a challenge filling positions due to a shortage of experienced talent in their markets.
  • USA: One in 7.5 is 65 or older. Credible data is unavailable for the exit and entry numbers of the workforce, but using other countries as a reference, it should be almost 1 for 1.
  • Canada: One in 7 is a senior citizen. For every worker that exits, just over 1 enters.
  • Europe: One in 5.9 is a senior citizen. By 2030 it will be 1 in 4. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • Japan: One in 4.4 is a senior citizen. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • By 2020 in China, Russia, Canada and South Korea more people will reach retirement age than entering the workforce.

Shifting Demographics

  • The under-65 skilled workforce in the USA / rest of the Western world is shrinking.
  • Recruitment may thus soon be from both an aging and dwindling workforce.
  • Labor demographics are shifting and will present local/global employers with resourcing challenges – which will eventually favor both seniors and countries with a younger workforce.
  • The global workforce will be augmented from retirees and women in countries where woman traditionally do not enter the workforce.

Effects of Workforce Movements

  • The available global resource pool has become more mobile. This often leads to xenophobic backlashes in countries where an influx of foreigners is seen as taking jobs away from locals.
  • Loyalty in terms of remaining with a company for many years is largely a concept of the past – for both parties.
  • In some countries the replacement is almost 1 for 1, except that those who exit has more than 40 year of experience.
  • This will create unparalleled competition/polarization between young and old, skilled and semi-/non-skilled, knowledge/non-knowledge workers, possibly amongst different industries and countries.
  • Countries/companies must develop new policies and strategies to maintain/re-engage skilled workers who are leaving the workforce due to reaching retirement age, and put in place knowledge/skills transfer policies and programs.

Enter Generation U

Generation Unretired is the newest – if not youngest – segment of the workforce. They:

  • Represent 8 out of 10 baby boomers who will work past retirement age or return to work after retirement.
  • Have significant depths of knowledge, experience and interpersonal skills, developed over 40+ years.
  • Have a strong work ethic – comparable to, if not better than other “generations”.
  • Can overcome the technology learning curve in certain industries through training.
  • “Sees the big picture and have strategic thinking experience” or a zest for detail (retired accountants).

In summary Gen U is the critical mass that has reshaped all facets of life as they moved through it and will continue to do so.