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 ?

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.

Older Comments

I brought many years of experience in computers to the company I work for, who consisted of older people without the common involvement in computers and network related issues. The owner is also just as unfamiliar with the issue, and therefore holds a very low value to it. These older colleagues have used their position to squeeze out any room for growth for me. I beleive they may have felt threatened, as it is a very small company, but one became my supervisor, without any experience in my field, and the other is a CPA, who has the ear of the owner, and destroys his perception of me with accusations and petty insinuations. Ive lost, and have given sixteen years of myself to the company to now be 40, and a complete failure. I never wanted to effect anyone like this, I just wanted to provide my talents and skills to help the company succeed. Instead, I am still low man on the totem pole, and watch shop workers surpass me in pay and promotion. I put a gun to my head the other night. I dont feel like there is anywhere for me to go, and I dont know why things have gotten so bad here, while the economy is completely flat for jobs. To top it off, my wife has divorced me and destroyed our family, for some old highschool boyfriend on facebook. This is my life, and I see nothing of any hope in the horizon, at all. Sometimes, just to escape the pain of having to throw myself to the dogs again, makes ending it appear preferable.

Matt Turner