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God Save the Old Guys

November 28, 2011
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Regis Philbin retired. The 80-year-old host stoically performed his final “Live! with Regis and Kelly” on Nov. 18. Not a single tear left the eyes of this daytime television titan, a feat for which he would allegedly be collecting $10 from Katie Couric someday.

Who’s the next Regis? It really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that this man’s experience, wisdom, and expertise go with him and the young buck they will likely replace him with has a lot to learn. Sadly, this replacement of the older generation with younger counterparts seems to be happening at a quicker rate than in the past. Many men and women over 50 find themselves out of a job earlier than expected, in part due to the recession and in part due to the lack of respect for the “old guys” in the business.

The Young and the Restless

There are reasons why young bucks may find it easy to think they are savvier than the old guy. Often they can move quicker, work longer, and endure the elements better; among other things. Many times these reasons are all true. It can be tough getting old. It can also be frustrating because some of the physical things the old guy could once do without a thought takes quite a bit of effort now. Bodies weren’t made to last forever and that can slow a person down considerably. The young buck might move better and work faster, but his lack of experience can open him up to making many more mistakes than the old guy. Technology is another element that is broadening the communication gap between the young and the old. Some young bucks can run circles around many of the old guys when it comes to operating smart phones, tablets, and embracing the new age of digital marketing. Not all old guys are technology deficient; but what the old guy had to learn about technology later in life, the young buck grew up knowing because of the electronic toys that were in his generation’s toy box. It is important to be careful, young buck. The technological disparity between generations can mask itself as a perceived higher intelligence in the young. Button pushing and knowledge, however, does not a wise man make.

Grumpy Old Men

As for the old guys, they are not above reproach in the battle for generational supremacy. It is interesting how quickly wisdom seems to make people proud. It can be tough to talk to someone who already knows it all. The air of superiority from an old guy can really stink up the place and create a work environment that doesn’t allow the young buck to grow up and learn. Grumpy know-it-alls that don’t consider the young buck aren’t going to make it very long.

As for technology, some old guys don’t seem to want to adapt. This inability to adapt is detrimental. It is not important to know every piece of available technology and its application in order to best the young buck at the technology game. It is essential, however, that the old guy is willing to approach new things with an open mind. Just because your grandpappy did it that way 75 years ago, doesn’t mean it is the best way to go. What’s needed is a willingness to move beyond tradition.

Young and Old Unite

In all actuality, there really isn’t a generation that is supreme. Each has its own unique qualities and skills that make them valuable in some way.

The key to integrating the generations is teamwork — acknowledging our differences and compensating for each others weakness. Our workplace value doesn’t come from our age, our strength, or our ability to imitate superheroes in the daily grind. It comes from the understanding that as a team we are better together.

It is imperative that the young bucks out there don’t forget to value the old guys in the business. It is equally important for the old guys to value the young bucks. If the two generations can learn to work together, their opposite strengths should cover each others shortcomings. This, however, doesn’t seem to be the prevailing trend in the current workplace as the scales continue to tip in favor of the young bucks. That’s OK, God will likely save the old guys, but if the young bucks would value and save them first, the old guys may one day save the young buck’s hide.

Publication date: 11/28/2011

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