It is not the age, but the personality that counts

To confuse personality with age can be a real trap. Györgyi Kristóf spoke about this topic on behalf of Hammel & Hochreiter.

In a roundtable debate of Digitalia-geneRÁCIÓK Autumn Conference, Györgyi Kristóf represented Hammel & Hochreiter. Generation issues are more and more frequent among the clients of her company, specialized for interim management services. The event gave a good opportunity to discuss these matters in a comprehensive manner.

Györgyi Kristóf pointed out that generation issues have not recently become fashionable and popular to talk about. These matters were always present. The saying “Oh, these young people of today…” already existed thousands of years ago and there were always outstanding young people, for example Alexander the Great, King Matthias, Rákóczi – we could go on and on. Today, we receive information from five continents and from thousands of different channels, so the generation issue seems bigger than it is. In addition, the editorial staff of the classical newspapers are older, so there is a shift in focus – just think of the average age of vloggers, youtubers, and their many followers!

However, the subject is very important and will be more and more. To get all the details in place, it would be more effective if older people would not only talk to people their own age, and the younger ones would not just talk to young people. It would be better to communicate with one another to get to know each other’s ideas and world views. Differences are also amplified by differences in technology utilization, or they make communication difficult while it is needed.

During the roundtable discussion, it was implied that people over the age of forty-five are regarded as digital immigrants, while those who are under thirty were often referred to as social media slaves. Györgyi Kristóf pointed out that personality can be confused with age and that can result in a trap. Personality, education, social affiliation, they all determine our behaviour. There are rigid and rickety teenagers and we also know loud, cheerful and innovative sixty-years-old people. However, if generations can work together, they can learn from each other. Stability and dynamics are equally important values. Without dynamism, stability becomes stiff and unviable, without stability dynamics fall apart. Older and younger generations can complement each other’s competences. In case of a good co-operation it is noticeable that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. And these are not just professional competences. A young person can learn patience from an older person, and an older person can learn enthusiasm from younger ones.

What if there is no co-operation between people of different ages? Based on Györgyi Kristóf’s experiences, young people tend to re-discover the old things and they often wonder about basic evidences, they could have learned from their older colleagues during their day-to-day work. This distance generates unhealthy competition. Older people begin to behave as if they were young, while young people pretend to be more experienced. Thus, a false image is generated in Y from X and vice versa. If we do not talk to each other, we do not know what the other is like or capable of doing.

The managing director of Hammel & Hochreiter has firmly stated that in the labour market we must forget that we exclude people at the age of fifty-five and sixty and passivating them with the retired label. There is a well-established reason for our new motto: Fifty is the new thirty. Today’s 50s are more active and are looking for a healthy lifestyle than a generation ago, and this is clearly reflected in their endurance and working capacity. The way this generation shows interest in adventures or how it handles the work-life-balance issue is also remarkable. Today, a fifty plus is planning for decades, can acquire a whole new set of knowledge and experience. Not utilizing all of benefits could be a loss for the company. They already know that they have time to fulfil the lifelong learning command.

Company CEOs should consider the following aspects: They should forget the old spells and monitor the labour market situation, which is today a strong demand – many people still do not want to be aware of it. Today, neither the fifty plus employee can afford to retire early, nor the CEO to give up on this generation.