There are some universal themes and issues that keep coming up over and over in the work I do. Mentoring the low performer is one of these. It creates anxiety and fear into the heart of every leader and manager who feels they need to do it. But it doesn’t have to be that way as Mike’s experience shows.
This was a mentoring experience I had a number of years ago and last week (and many times in between) I had almost the exact experience again so I recovered this post and revised it, knowing that it could be valuable for so many leaders and managers facing this situation.
In my workshops, I always offer the participants the opportunity to contact me after the workshop by email if they have any questions or want to discuss anything from the workshop.
This email I had from Mike was one of those situations. Both Mike (not his real name) and his employee have allowed me to tell this story and use it as a learning experience for others.
Rather than follow up by email, I actually phoned Mike to talk about this and made some suggestions for how he could handle it and about 12 months later when our paths crossed he gave me some feedback on what happened. I thought it was a good case study to present here.
It can rear its threatening head as early as 50 and it’s certainly expressing itself loudly by 60. It can become like a ball and chain that stops us moving forward, or even moving at all. At least that is what the mentoring I do with this group of people tells me. Yes, I’m talking about ageism, that prejudicial and discriminatory belief system that stereotypes people on the basis of their age. It can happen at any stage of our lives, but my professional experience has been with people at the 50-70 + age bracket and that’s what I want to focus on here.
These are the people who are considered “too old”, with little to contribute to the future growth of their organisations. They are seen to be out of date, not “with it”. They do not represent the image that their organisation wants to portray to the world. They are often perceived to be at the end of their professional lives and therefore are not give opportunities for career or professional development. This last point I make is crucial to this discussion because many in this age bracket do rely too heavily on their decades of experience, their tried and true methods, systems and processes. They do not see the need to keep on learning and growing if they are to make a difference in this world where change and unpredictability are the only certainties.
But there is a growing number of people in their 60s becoming seniorpreneurs, who have refused to buy into the stereotype that is ageism.