Why is Experience so Under Rated?


22A bank CEO was heard to say that “there is a lot of gray in our management team.  I believe that experience keeps us from making mistakes and helps us to be successful.”  If I revealed the name of this bank, hundreds of Baby Boomers would be sending them their resumes!

This CEO is an impressive lady with an equally impressive career, but her take on the human resources side of the business is really thinking outside the box.  While many of her counterparts are thinking about how to attract the youngest worker possible with the least amount of experience, she sees value in tenure.

Experience does cost more to obtain, not only in the initial search, but in a compensation package.  Yet experienced personnel can save companies money in the long run from making costly mistakes.  Experience often comes with a bit more caution and a deeper set of skills.  It also is retiring from the workforce at about 10,000 employees a day in this country.

So why is experience so under rated by most companies?  Well for many it is the price tag.  Saving 25% on salary and benefits can look good on a balance sheet.  But after a couple of years of waiting for performance because you are also waiting for them to learn their job, you have to ask yourself if they were such a bargain in the end?

Experienced staff will also hold management accountable.  They know how things are supposed to work, so wage and hour laws, workplace harassment, and illegal employment practices are not allowed to happen under their watch.  If you want to circumvent these laws, hire inexperienced people.

Recently I read a great article that rebutted the notion that Baby Boomers were not as tech savvy as the younger worker.  He went on to remind us that they began a career with land line phones and typewriters.  They had to learn how to operate a pager and calling card.  They learned how to use the first PC and every update since that day.  They learned how to use the first cell phones, hand-held devices for email, and every other piece of technology since they started working.  They actually have a longer resume of technology use than the generation that got a smart phone at birth.

But here is what I think is the real reason that experience is so under rated.  The CEO I introduced this blog with is a Servant Leader and has no problem surrounding herself with people who may know something she doesn’t.  Her focus is on building a superior bank, period.  Other “leaders” are more self-serving and do not want people around them that might show them up.  They want people who make them look good and keep the spotlight pointing at themselves.

While the Baby Boomer generation is currently retiring at about 10,000 people a day, we will always have a workforce that is made up of experienced and inexperienced people.  My advice is to take a chance on hiring more gray hair, you might be surprised at the results.

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