Wake up baby boomers! You have become workplace yodas. That’s right – you are Jedi Grand Masters.
There’s a skills shortage of major proportion in every organization just as thousands of baby boomers ride off into the sunset (or into a cloudbank), taking their Jedi wisdom with them. A recent study from the University of California identified two distinct forms of intelligence: fluid intelligence, which is our ability to think logically and process information; and crystallized intelligence, which is gained through accumulated knowledge and experience. Increases in crystallized intelligence was considered to be twice as valuable as increases in fluid intelligence. Guess who has loads of crystallized intelligence?
“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” – Yoda
Some organizations are setting up alumni networks in order to retain the knowledge and experience of longtime employees. One such network is YourEncore, which was set up by Procter & Gamble and Eli Lilly to enable them to tap into the wisdom of older employees who still wanted to offer their experience without working full-time hours.
Baby boomers are being recruited more directly in some companies to act as teachers and mentors to the younger talent. Rather than being called interns, someone coined the term “mentern.” Travel industry veteran Chip Conley has described his experience at Airbnb in his latest book Wisdom at Work: How to Reinvent the Second Half of Your Career.
He identifies the following types of wisdom that corporate elders can contribute:
- Good judgment – the experience of older employees can give perspective and help smooth out the inevitable bumps in the road
- Unvarnished insight – a boomer’s experience can help cut through the clutter and there is less need to impress or prove themselves
- Emotional intelligence – knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens, so the elders are capable of great self-awareness and empathy
- Holistic thinking – the brain may lose some speed and memory as it ages, but is more able to see holistically, a valuable faculty where pattern recognition is key.
- Stewardship – elders have experience as good corporate citizens, and that often translates into a desire to give rather than take.
“Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” Yoda
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.