Pushed out by younger colleagues


I've given the best part of my working life to a well known cable and telecoms company. We've recently expanded and grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions and the new organisation has introduced another layer of executive management. They are mostly young graduate MBA types, with all the jargon about new technologies and the internet, whilst I am from the original 'Pots and Pans' school of telecoms.

My nightmare scenario is that because I am 55, I'll be sidelined out and forced to look for a new job. What should I do ?

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Charles Helliwell's Answer:

Brian, you are not alone in dealing with this dilemma; it is one which is faced by many in most business sectors. So the first thing to realise is that you are not alone; and the second is that this is not reflective of you as an individual.

The dynamic growth of your company does not mean that suddenly you have nothing left to offer. Far from it, in fact. You might not recognise it at the moment and neither may your colleagues, but they actually need you more now than ever before.

You are the rock around which your organisation has flourished; the foundations on which a successful business has been built. Please don't forget that and dismiss it as being of no value.

You don't have to prove yourself against the new generation of executives who have been hired. They will have their own agendas; their own ideas; and their own ambitions. Most importantly, their drive and momentum will be geared towards proving their value to the company.

If they are the formula one drivers of the business, you are chief engineer, chief designer, pit boss or even team manager. Without you, they don't win the race; you don't need to drive the car to prove you can drive as fast as they do. So re-focus your energies on supporting the outcome of the business and provide the level-headed and grounded thinking which will minimise the risk and exposure and ensure probity.

You don't have to be in the front seat to prove your value and being in the back seat doesn't in any way diminish your credibility or value to the organisation, unless you allow it to. However, it's all too easy to allow the perception of value to become the measure of your visibility.

Please don't allow that happen. It won't be too hard to position yourself as the 'guru' of your sector. You are the elder statesman of your organisation; you know the legacy and where all the bodies are buried. You will also have most of the answers, since you've been there; done that; and got the tee-shirt. Yours is the legacy of moderation and risk management and every organisation going through the various stages of growth, expansion and development needs a number of 'Brians' at various levels to help them achieve the success they strive for.

About our Expert

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.