Once upon a time, there was a company that valued its employees as its most valuable asset. Experience and wisdom were held in high regard, and loyalty was a two way street. When the company asked an employee to jump, he would ask how high because he knew the company would reward him with greater opportunities, larger salaries and bonuses, fantastic benefits, and the opportunity to pursue career growth. He knew that the company saw him as an individual and not a number. The company was viewed as one of the top places to work in America. The leadership knew that its legacy rested in a strong culture, filled with a workforce proud to call themselves employees. And the workforce rewarded the leadership by consistently raising performance so that the company was named the top firm in its industry for decades.
But then something began to change. Loyalty began to erode under the pressure of profit margins and shareholder dividends. The value once held for wisdom and experience shifted to youth and new ideas. And company wide performance began to trend down. New work was harder and harder to find. Evaluations started to reveal that the lower level of performance was directly related to the lack of experience by newly installed leaders and managers. If I had a crystal ball, I believe the future would show this once powerhouse company becoming a middle of the road, mediocre establishment that teeters on insignificance. It’s sad really.
This is a true story and not just a fairy tale. And it’s a sad picture of what our society has become. We don’t value age, experience and wisdom anymore. We look to what’s new and fresh and forget to consider if it’s tested and proven. I like new ideas and I value raising up new leaders. But not at the expense of those who blazed the trail before us. There is so much to learn from them. I believe there is a golden opportunity to engage the experience and wisdom in mentoring and training the youth and new ideas. But that takes vision and intentionality. It takes a culture that values this idea and weaves it in to the fabric of its DNA.
Imagine how much different the story would be if we would learn to value all of these things and not just one or the other.